Jon “Bones” Jones defeated Maurico “Shogun” Rua at UFC 128 to become the UFC light heavyweight champion, and before Jones had the tape cut off his hands people had already begun requesting that UFC president Dana White arrange a scrap between the newly crowned champ and possibly the best fighter to ever put on a pair of four-ounce gloves, Anderson Silva.
The talks of these “superfights” is getting out of hand. Every time somebody displays a jaw-dropping performance in the Octagon, fans scurry to their keyboards to suggest that the fighter should fight Anderson Silva. It is gradually turning into a question of who is going to beat Silva, as opposed to creating matches that determine the best fighter in the world at a specific weight class.
Silva is constantly in the crosshairs of these discussions, but more recently UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre has been bombarded with fans and media alike requesting he fight Silva. St-Pierre has little interest in fighting the Brazilian, and for good reason.
GSP has a very important title fight at UFC 129 against Jake Shields, yet the media continuously hounds St-Pierre with questions about fighting Silva. This potentially is a major distraction for the welterweight champ during his preparations for Shields.
For GSP to increase an entire weight division in order to please people who have no bearing on his life is downright stupid. St-Pierre has a very successful career in the 170-pound division, along with prosperous endorsements, such as Gatorade and Under Armour. He risks losing those money-makers if a fight with Silva did not go his way, not to mention the fact that the French-Canadian likely would relinquish his welterweight belt just for the chance.
St-Pierre is an outstanding fighter, but size plays a huge factor in a meeting between the two champs. Silva’s body frame is larger compared to St-Pierre’s, and if GSP packs too much muscle on that frame to enable his chances at making 185 pounds, he could possibly slow down, lose his timing, and even increase chances of more rapidly fatiguing.
There is solid reasoning behind weight divisions in MMA. Fighters compete most fairly against opponents their own size. Not everyone has the same physique. St-Pierre is an intelligent person who does not figure to jeopardize all he has worked for by taking a fight against Silva and potentially an unnecessary loss merely to satisfy fans.
Do not blame him one bit for that.
Now that “Bones” Jones has cemented himself as a UFC champion, fans, media and fighters have all began hurling the suggestion of Jon Jones vs. Anderson Silva toward Dana White via Twitter, Facebook, and every other outlet. While size figures to be a non-issue in that matchup, Silva said long ago that he will no longer fight at light heavyweight. Moreso, who has Jones beaten, aside from Rua, that warrants him a shot against arguably the best fighter ever?
Jones has not even been the champ for 72 hours, and though conquering “Shogun” was a great start to the Bones Era, let’s not forget how quickly the Era of Machida ended. Providing “Bones” can get past his first test, former training partner and friend Rashad Evans, there is still an abundance of light heavyweight fighters to overcome before the inexperienced champ cleans out the division. Aside from the challengers that hover around the top of the division such as Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Forrest Griffin, there are also fighters like Matt Hamill and the rising Phil Davis who are approaching title contention.
If Randy Couture defeats Lyoto Machida, that could place him among the top contenders in the division, and if Machida wins that fight plus a few more, that could lead to a fight between him and Jones.
If Silva vs. Jones did materialize, the matter of it being a title shot or not would come into play.
If it was for the light heavyweight title, Silva might have to surrender his middleweight belt. Should Silva beat Jones at 205 pounds for the title, it could leave a lot of loose ends in both weight classes: A vacant middleweight title, plus a light heavyweight champion with little to prove a few years before retirement, plus Jones needing to work his way back up the ladder equals less competitive, less interesting fights.
Why Risk It?
There is also the humiliation factor.
Silva has been known to embarrass otherwise worthy opponents. He made Griffin, Rich Franklin and Vitor Belfort look like amateurs inside the Octagon. Silva is the single fighter for whom you cannot fully prepare. Jones was able to prep for Rua’s vicious leg kicks and excellent jiu-jitsu. Belfort, on the other hand, never trained a day on stopping a front kick to the jaw. Also, Jones’ striking is effective and creative, but not too many can get their hands on Silva, and when they try they get punished for it.
Wrestling is the one advantage Jones undeniably holds over Silva, but I would hope “The Spider” learned a valuable lesson from his fight with Chael Sonnen. That being said, a fighter as young and inexperienced as Jones that has not experienced true defeat might suffer a severe confidence setback and slow the progress of his career if he is on the wrong end of an Anderson Silva highlight.
Trying to pressure people into these “superfights” when weight is significantly different or when a fighter is just beginning their journey of greatness is senseless and it only causes needless distractions for fighters like Jones and St-Pierre. “Superfights” should be more like a scrap between Nick Diaz and St-Pierre or Couture and Fedor Emelianenko, not irrelevant fights that interfere with what the fighter is currently achieving. If we want to make nonsense fights, let’s see Alistair Overeem against Dominick Cruz. That would look like a bear mauling a kitten, and it doesn’t make sense, does it?
Jones is probably still finding his UFC champion status surreal. For now, let’s allow Silva to be one of the best fighters ever and Jones to continue becoming one of them.