UFC 126: Can Georges St. Pierre Dethrone Anderson Silva?
First of all—wow.
Those who tuned into UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort this Saturday night got their money's worth and more.
It was a night of great fights, and the main event just put the cherry on top. The first-round knockout of Vitor Belfort by Anderson Silva (also known as "The Spider") was just an incredible display of martial arts skill.
The fight started off slowly, and Belfort was the one to throw the first strike with a leg kick around the three-minute mark of Round 1. Belfort also caught Silva with a punch as Silva was backing up.
Then, at the 1:31 mark of Round 1, Anderson Silva knocked Belfort out and defended his title for a record-extending eighth time.
This obviously begs the question: Who will be the next opponent to entangle himself in "The Spider's" web?
People have talked about Silva moving up to light heavyweight and making a run there, but Silva put an end to that idea, stating at the post-fight press conference that he wants to remain at middleweight and continue to extend his reign over the division.
At middleweight, Yushin Okami supposedly earned himself the next shot with his win over Nate Marquardt at UFC 122. The win by Okami wasn't anything to write home about, and after witnessing Silva's destruction of Belfort, one really has to wonder if Okami poses a threat to Silva's title at all.
Do you think Georges St. Pierre can dethrone Anderson Silva?
UFC president Dana White went on record in the post-fight press conference, saying that the Okami vs. Silva fight isn't going to happen, and that the Georges St. Pierre vs. Silva fight is probably in the works.
There are still a lot of question marks surrounding the St. Pierre vs. Silva fight, though.
White told the media that obviously St. Pierre has to get past Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto April 30th. He will have to do so with his health intact, and one would also imagine that, above all, St. Pierre is going to have to want this fight with Silva in order for it to happen.
Georges St. Pierre has been dodging questions about the move up to middleweight for quite some time now, and up until recently, the UFC was fully backing their welterweight champion to stay at 170 pounds to defend his title.
Now the UFC is backing the Silva vs. St. Pierre fight, and the fans are backing it as well, so if this fight doesn't happen, it's pretty clear that St. Pierre isn't so hot on the idea of moving up in weight.
As far as Silva goes, a super-fight defending his title against St. Pierre is probably the last challenge he has to overcome at middleweight. Despite what many fans might say, especially after last night, St. Pierre stylistically is a tough fight for Silva.
If there is any weakness in Anderson Silva's game, it is his wrestling, and Georges St. Pierre possesses some of the best wrestling skills in the entire sport.
Anderson's vulnerability to wrestling was evidenced in his fights with Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen. Both Henderson and Sonnen lost to Silva, but Henderson did win Round 1 with his wrestling, and Sonnen dominated Silva for 24 minutes of the 25-minute title fight.
Of course, Sonnen tested positive for steroids, and Silva was apparently nursing an injured rib, but it doesn't change the fact that Silva has looked his worst against good wrestlers and strong grapplers.
Going into the fight, St. Pierre will probably be the underdog because he is the one moving up in weight. Silva is already much bigger, and St. Pierre's striking just isn't on Silva's level.
(Then again, neither is anyone else's.)
Despite Georges' boxing display against Josh Koschek in December, one has to remember that Koschek isn't the tactician that Silva is. What happened when St. Pierre was clipped and knocked out by Matt Serra has to be at the back of everyone's minds, including Georges'.
Georges' best chance of winning the fight is to get Silva to the ground and impose his will on Silva in a fashion similar to Chael Sonnen. If Anderson keeps the fight standing, St. Pierre is probably in for a world of hurt.
The only place Anderson Silva has ever looked human is on the ground, and that is where Georges has to take "The Spider" to win.
Even then, Georges will still be playing a dangerous game.
An interesting subplot to watch after UFC 126 is: How will St. Pierre react to the media whirlwind surrounding the super-fight?
One has to wonder whether or not all the hype and emphasis on the Silva fight will have an effect on St. Pierre's preparation and performance against Jake Shields come April.
In any case, I'm hoping Georges St. Pierre wins his upcoming fight against Jake Shields (without injury) and that he embraces the challenge set forth by the UFC. If the Silva vs. St. Pierre fight comes to fruition, it will be one of the biggest main events in the history of mixed martial arts, as two of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world would be set to square off.
Leon Horne has been contributing to The Bleacher Report for two years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates:
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