Georges St-Pierre has stated very clearly that he's not afraid of Anderson Silva. That said, he's already started to frame the discussion as concerns a potential super-fight.
As St-Pierre puts it, he walks around at 190 pounds, while Silva walks around at about 230 pounds. That's a 40-pound weight difference. This difference, while probably accurate, is also a very misleading one.
I've said this before, but the important information to know about the weight gap is this:
"Silva allows himself to balloon up in weight when he's not training for a fight, but his fighting weight isn't nearly that high when he's fighting at middleweight. Some suggest that his weight when he's actually competing at middleweight is less than 200 pounds.
St-Pierre is on the other side of the spectrum.
St-Pierre is in nearly peak shape even when he's not in training camp. He walks around at 190 pounds, and when he's fighting, he's stepping into the Octagon at about 190 pounds.
So when it comes to actual fighting weight, St-Pierre might not really be that much smaller than Silva.
The real fighting weight difference might be even less than the actual weight class difference of 15 pounds.
St-Pierre isn't dumb. He knows that Silva isn't 230 pounds when he steps into the cage for middleweight title defenses. So why does St-Pierre fudge the facts?
In the end, it's all about framing the issue.
St-Pierre knows that whatever he says is going to be widely quoted and distributed for popular consumption. It's like Joe Rogan calling somebody a world-class kickboxer. If he says it enough times, then the words get widely accepted and people forget that it's just a bit of UFC hyperbole.
Thus, whenever people talk about St-Pierre vs. Silva, the discussion will often include talk of how St-Pierre is stepping up against a guy who is 30 to 45 pounds larger than he is.
If St-Pierre is successful in implanting this weight difference idea, he'll have done himself a world of good because a loss to Silva would be more readily excused, while a win over Silva will be hailed as an even greater achievement.
It's the kind of idea that makes a move that many feel is essential to St-Pierre's career, and turns that move into a courageous feat: "St-Pierre was brave just to step up against a champion 40 pounds heavier than he was."
Interestingly, such image-shaping techniques are nothing new to St-Pierre.
In recent years, St-Pierre has tried to counter the casual fan perception that attributes much of his success to raw strength and athleticism.
He doesn't want people to see him as a bully, so he's quick to say that his success is due to his intelligence and strategy. He's not the best at anything, according to him, but he finds a way to win with the skills that he has.
He's even gone so far as to discredit his own strength and conditioning program, by saying that he only lifts weights for aesthetics. At the time, his philosophical thought of the day was that all fighters have enough strength and conditioning and that the fighter who wins that battle wins not by having more strength or better cardio, but because of efficiency of movement.
When it comes to these kinds of statements, it should be obvious that what St-Pierre says has a certain level of truth.
People who attribute his success simply to strength and athleticism are idiots.
St-Pierre, on the other hand, uses his intelligence in just about every facet of his life.
His training program is engineered in a very intelligent way, and he incorporates intelligent strategy in his fights. He's a fan of philosophy, paleontology and chess.
His own characterization of himself is far closer to the mark than the lame idea that says he's got the body of a champion, but not the mind.
In truth, his high level of athleticism would be enough by itself to make him a great fighter had be been of merely average intelligence. His mind is what has allowed him to become one of the greatest of all-time.
He's smart enough to know that the weight difference between him and Silva is 15 pounds, not 40.