Which Current UFC Champion Would Reign Supreme If They Were the Same Weight?
The concept of pound-for-pound rankings basically centers around the idea of who the greatest fighter on the planet is, based on various factors like overall record, quality of competition faced, championships earned etc.
The reason the rankings are done this way is because many of the best fighters on the planet are weight classes apart from each other, so there's no definite way to tell who is better; it's not like they can fight each other.
While it's unfortunate that we'll never see a heavyweight like Cain Velasquez fight a bantamweight like Dominick Cruz in reality, there's no reason that a fictional universe couldn't be created in which every current UFC champion is competing in the same weight class.
Let's take a look at which current UFC champion would reign supreme if they were all fighting in the same weight class...
How This Works
Clearly, this is an unusual concept, so let me explain how this is going to work.
We are going to do this tournament style. There will be four fights in the quarterfinals, with the winners advancing to the semifinals, and then the winners of the semis advancing to the finals.
The matches for the opening round of the tournament will be chosen at random.
Now for the trickier business.
When I say that all of the champions are fighting in the same weight class, I do not mean that they are all exactly the same size.
Whatever attributes each champ has relative to their own weight class, they will have those same attributes, but relative to their new weight class.
Let's say, for clarity's sake, that this tournament were to take place in the middleweight division.
Anderson Silva would be exactly the same fighter he is now in every way.
Frankie Edgar would weigh about 185lbs, naturally, and have to cut almost no weight, just like he barely cuts weight to make 155lbs. in the real world. Edgar would also be incredibly quick, but incredibly quick relative to middleweight and not to light weight.
Instead of being an unusually large light heavyweight, with a freakishly long reach, who will eventually have to move to heavyweight, Jon Jones will be an unusually large middleweight, with a slightly-less freakish reach and who will eventually have to fight at light heavyweight.
Hopefully that clears up anything that any of you were unsure about.
For anyone unfamiliar with any of the UFC's champions, here's a list of them, all of which will be featured in the tournament.
Heavyweight Champ: Cain Velasquez
Light Heavyweight Champ: Jon Jones
Middleweight Champ: Anderson Silva
Welterweight Champ: Georges St-Pierre
Lightweight Champ: Frankie Edgar
Featherweight Champ: Jose Aldo
Bantamweight Champ: Dominick Cruz
As some of you may have noticed, the UFC only has seven champions.
This means that there is one extra spot in the tournament.
After considering fighters like Jon Fitch and Junior Dos Santos for the wildcard spot, I've settled on Gray Maynard.
Maynard fought for the UFC Lightweight Championship back at UFC 125 and went to a draw with the current champion Frankie Edgar.
Considering that he went to a draw with a UFC champ, I take that to mean that he is at least good enough to be a UFC champ and that's why he deserves the wildcard spot.
Alright, let's get this tournament started...
First Fight of the Quarterfinals: Cain Velasquez vs. Anderson Silva
Cain Velasquez vs. Anderson Silva is an interesting matchup.
There are two things we need to take into consideration off the top.
First, Velasquez' striking is a little bit overrated. Second, Silva's takedown defense is not so great and Velasquez is a phenomenal wrestler. What I'm getting at is that both men have ways they could win this fight.
I think the key to this one will be that Velasquez is coming off of two dominant TKO victories and will have a little bit too much confidence in his hands.
Although Velasquez did finish Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Brock Lesnar with his hands, neither of those men are notably good strikers. When he fought a good, technical striker in the form of Cheick Kongo, Velasquez ended up getting rocked and had to use his wrestling to win the fight.
I see this fight going down similar to Dan Henderson vs. Anderson Silva.
Velasquez' game plan will be to use his wrestling to win the fight and that will work for a while, but then he'll stray from the plan and it will cost him.
The heavyweight champ takes Rounds 1 and 2 by scoring takedowns and controlling Silva from top position. However, during those first two rounds there are brief striking exchanges and Velasquez does okay in them.
This prompts him to become more comfortable standing and less desperate to get Silva to the ground.
In the third round, the middleweight champ uses his superior striking to light Velasquez up, hurting him badly. Velasquez crumples and Silva hammers away until he gets the TKO.
The winner, moving onto the semifinals: Anderson Silva via third-round TKO
Second Fight of the Quarterfinals: Jose Aldo vs. Jon Jones
Here we have a fight between two of the youngest and most dynamic stars in all of MMA.
Jon Jones is a well-rounded fighter, who is unpredictable, with an insanely long reach, and excellent takedowns.
Aldo is a bit of a specialist, in the sense that he wins the majority of his fights with his striking, but he does have a solid ground game to accompany his incredible striking.
This is a tough one to call.
Aldo is the better striker on a technical level and is great at mixing things up, but Jones has his unpredictability working for him, as well as his reach and the fact that Aldo has to be worried about the takedown.
Ultimately, I think that Aldo would find success in the stand up, but he would have to work hard for it and he would have trouble getting in and out of Jones' range.
Also, I see Jones' being able to take Aldo down pretty much at will, when he's able to get a hold of him, which would be tricky because of Aldo's speed.
The first two rounds of the fight would be close, but I feel that as soon as Jones got Aldo to the ground, it would be over.
Aldo does have a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but when he fought Mark Hominick at UFC 129, we saw that Aldo isn't the best when it comes to fighting off his back.
If Jones got Aldo to the ground, which I think he eventually would, he would be able to use his size to smother Aldo and batter him with ground and pound.
We've seen how quickly Jones can tire guys out and beat them up from the top position and, while I believe Aldo would fair better than most, Jones would be able to do exactly that to him.
There is the chance that Aldo could score an early knockout, considering we haven't seen Jones chin tested yet, but I don't see it happening. Aldo isn't used to dealing with a significant reach disadvantage and that would likely throw him off his game and make it difficult for him to land really clean shots.
The winner, moving onto the semifinals: Jon Jones via third-round TKO
Third Fight of the Quarterfinals: Georges St-Pierre vs. Gray Maynard
Ooh, this is a tough test for wildcard Gray Maynard—not that there's any really easy fights in this tournament.
Maynard's strength is his wrestling, but he also loves to box and has some fairly heavy hands.
Georges St-Pierre is arguably the most well-rounded fighter in MMA today. He has nearly unstoppable takedowns, despite having no background in wrestling, very technical and precise striking and an unusual ability to cover distance.
Based on how these two match up, stylistically, this fight would probably look almost exactly like Georges St-Pierre vs. Josh Koscheck 2.
Although Maynard is a decorated amateur wrestler, St-Pierre wouldn't have much trouble neutralizing his grappling abilities.
Similarly, St-Pierre would have a tough time getting Maynard to the ground and, as a result of their wrestling cancelling out, most of this fight would be contested standing.
Maynard has better boxing than Koscheck, but it's still not nearly good enough to compete with GSP's hands.
As a boxer, Maynard is a little bit slow and has a tendency to head hunt, though he does have good timing.
St-Pierre has fast hands and nearly perfect technique.
In this fight, Maynard eats jabs for five long rounds, while he desperately tries to land a haymaker and knock St-Pierre out.
St-Pierre sees these punches coming from a mile away, avoids them pretty easily throughout the fight and he takes a decisive unanimous decision victory.
The winner, moving onto the semifinals: Georges St-Pierre via Unanimous Decision
Last Quarter Fight of the Quarterfinals: Frankie Edgar vs. Dominick Cruz
I hoped and I prayed that these two wouldn't get matched up.
Frankie Edgar and Dominick Cruz are so similar in terms of style that deciding on a winner here is going to be a nightmare.
Both men are known for their excellent footwork, in-and-out style of boxing, the incredible pace they set and their never-ending cardio. They also both have great wrestling and the part of their games that could use the most work is their submissions.
One advantage Cruz has is that he is more difficult to prepare for.
Edgar has his spectacular footwork and speed working for him, but his striking is quite conventional in a lot of ways. He's just good at using things that a lot of guys don't use hardly at all, like angles and head movement, and those things make his stand up look more unique than it is.
Cruz has a style that is truly his own; nobody boxes like this guy. Not only does he comes in from odd angles, but he throws his punches at strange angles also. So, Cruz would likely have an easier time training for Edgar than Edgar would training for him.
That said, while Cruz would probably have the striking advantage, Edgar would likely have the grappling advantage. Both men wrestled before entering MMA, but Edgar is the more decorated wrestler out of the two and I think Edgar's ability to change levels for takedowns really quickly would give Cruz trouble.
At UFC 132, Cruz fought Urijah Faber and showed the world that he has great scrambles, quickly getting back to his feet every time Faber took him down.
Based on that performance, I believe Edgar would be able to score takedowns here and there, but would have little success in keeping the fight on the ground and maintaining his top position.
Basically, the stand up would be almost even, but Cruz would have enough of an edge to be noticeable to the judges.
However, while Cruz would edge Edgar out in the striking, Edgar would be hitting a takedown here and there throughout the fight, making for a lot of very close rounds.
This one is tough to call, but I think Cruz takes it.
If they ever rematched, though, Edgar would win that.
The winner, moving onto the quarter finals: Dominick Cruz via Split-Decision
The First Semifinal Fight: Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones
This is a fight that a lot of people think will eventually happen for real.
In fact, a staggering number of people believe that Jon Jones will be the one to finally end Silva's remarkably long win streak and I agree that in the real world Jones could beat Silva, but this isn't the real world.
In this fictional tournament, these two men are the same weight class instead of one apart and so Jones won't have the same size advantage in this fight that he would in reality.
That said, Jones would still have a relevant size advantage, as well as the reach advantage.
This is a tough fight for Anderson because he would have to find a way to get inside Jones' range without getting himself taken down, which is a tall order.
If Jones is smart—or at least the people cornering him are smart—he would be looking to take this fight to the ground at every possible chance.
Because of his size and athleticism, Jones would be able to take the fight down almost whenever he wanted to, but Silva would do a better job than others have done at controlling Jones' posture and avoid getting pounded out.
One thing we haven't seen yet is Jones come back from adversity, so I think there's a good chance that he would get flustered if Silva started to tee off on him at any point.
I see Jones taking the first two or three rounds using his wrestling and then getting caught with some punches in the third or the fourth and really not liking it.
Once Jones is forced to taste Silva's power, he'll panic and leave more openings.
Silva will capitalize on those openings and win the fight.
Winner, moving on to the finals: Anderson Silva via fourth round TKO.
The Second Semifinal Fight: Georges St-Pierre vs. Dominick Cruz
Georges St-Pierre is all about fighting his opponents where they are the weakest and so he would be looking to take this fight to the ground.
Cruz is only a blue belt in Brazilian-jiu-jitsu, so if St-Pierre could get top position on the ground, he would have basically nothing to worry about.
If there's one thing you can always count on, it's that GSP will stick to his game plan and so don't expect him to mess around with Cruz' striking much at all.
If St-Pierre did try to outbox Cruz, I believe he might actually lose this fight, but that won't be his strategy.
As good a wrestler as Cruz is and as good as he is at getting back to his feet, St-Pierre is a better wrestler and has good enough top control to keep Cruz planted on the mat.
This fight would have very few striking exchanges, but Cruz would get the better of them, even landing a couple hard shots throughout the fight, but nothing significant enough to outweigh the many takedowns that GSP would score throughout.
St-Pierre is not a submission specialist, but given than Cruz is only a blue belt in jiu-jitsu, I think GSP has a real chance of winning this fight by submission.
The winner, moving on to the finals: Georges St-Pierre via fourth-round armbar.
The Finals: Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva
How perfect is it that it all comes down to Georges St-Pierre vs. Anderson Silva, two fighters that fans have been hoping for years would one day fight?
There's been a lot of speculation about who would win a super fight between these two and I think that Silva would win, in reality, because of how much bigger he is.
However, we're operating on a more level playing field here, so things are not as cut and dry.
Silva and St-Pierre are both considered large fighters in their respective divisions, so for this imaginary fight they would be basically the exact same size.
Both fighters' game plans for this one are obvious.
Silva would want to keep the fight standing and try to knock St-Pierre out.
St-Pierre would be looking for any and every opportunity to take Silva down, in order to avoid the striking game.
GSP's generally brilliant game-planning will play a huge role in this one.
Throughout the fight, St-Pierre would be conservative while striking, throwing a lot of jabs and kicks, while moving back a lot to try and frustrate Silva and avoid his shots.
When Silva decides to commit and engage with St-Pierre, that's when GSP switches things up, moves forward and snags the takedown.
This would be a long match for Silva and he wouldn't get to fight his fight the way he likes to.
With that said, Silva is a master of capitalizing on small openings.
The question is, "Could he find any openings against St-Pierre, who makes very, very few mistakes?"
I'm thinking, yes, but not until very late in the fight.
Late in the fifth round, Silva finally catches GSP with a big shot that rocks him.
St-Pierre does everything he can to recover, trying to run away from Silva, but eventually getting knocked down with another clean shot and then Silva goes to work with the ground and pound.
Silva is tired out from carrying around all of St-Pierre's weight for four rounds and his punches are coming slower than usual and seem labored.
GSP holds on just long enough to get saved by the final buzzer and wobbly makes his way back to his corner, awaiting the decision.
St-Pierre is noticeably worse for wear than Silva, but regardless he is named the victor.
Winner: Georges St-Pierre by Unanimous Decision