In the past four years, the UFC has seen 15 different champions throughout its five divisions (prior to the infusion of the featherweight and bantamweight classes); its Welterweight and Middleweight divisions combined have seen two. While all other UFC Champions have averaged 0.71 title defenses each over that time, Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva have had six and eight defenses respectively. If that is not dominance, I do not know what is.
Throughout the past year, there has been a strong push from fans and, on occasion, Dana White for the two most dominant fighters in UFC history to meet in a superfight. Questions began with whether the catchweight would be 175 lbs or 180 lbs. Then if Silva could still make 170 lbs (something he has not done in over six years). Recently the assumption has become that for the superfight to happen, St-Pierre would make the full-time move up to Middleweight and challenge Silva for his title.
Obviously, a matchup between the two most dominant fighters on the planet, especially when they are so close in weight, is a highly intriguing matchup; but is it the right fight for the UFC to make?
From a business standpoint, putting together a superfight between GSP and Anderson Silva would be a poor investment where the short-term gains do not come close to matching the long-terms losses. Seeing as though Silva and St-Pierre are two of the UFC’s three biggest PPV draws, it is pretty safe to assume that a card headlined by the two of them would be the highest grossing event in MMA history.
That being said, no matter the outcome, the promotion would be effectively torpedoing the value of one of its biggest draws and damaging the immediate marketability of one of its most exciting divisions.
First, while there are tons of good welterweights on the UFC roster, taking GSP out of the division would do serious damage to the division's marketability. St-Pierre sells fights no matter the opponent. Whether the fight is potentially competitive (Penn II) or clearly a mismatch (Hardy), when GSP headlines a card it sells.
Without St-Pierre, it would take a while to build another solid 170-pound draw. Even when the second biggest draw in the division (BJ Penn) fought the second best fighter in the division (Jon Fitch), the card barely sold (just over 250,000 PPV buys).
Secondly, the implications of the fight are lose-lose.
If Silva were to win, it would certainly damage the status of the UFC's golden boy and second biggest draw (behind Lesnar), GSP. Georges has already stated that a move to 185 would be permanent and even if an immediate rematch was called for that would only be two fights before the face of the promotion was relegated back to climbing the ladder.
If Silva were to decimate GSP, it would be nearly impossible to put St-Pierre back in the title picture for at least a year (see Vitor Belfort). Either way, a GSP loss would severely damage his marketability and would take millions of dollars out of the Zuffa’s pockets.
If St-Pierre were to beat Silva, it would force Anderson to make a permanent move to 205. While he has certainly had his fair share of success at Light Heavyweight in the past, it is in no way a certainty that he would succeed in reaching the pinnacle of the division. If were to lose on his way up the ladder it would effectively take one of the most exciting fighters in the world out of the main event picture.
While a potential superfight between consensus pound-for-pound #1 and #2 Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva would certainly reach record grossing numbers, in the long run the outcome of the fight would be a financial lose-lose.