First came the news that UFC President seems to finally be capitulating and looking to put on arguably the most significant and most financially lucrative fight the UFC can make, namely, a middleweight title bout between current champion Anderson Silva and UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre:
"After Anderson Silva wins that fight on the 5th and then Georges St. Pierre needs to beat Jake Shields in Toronto; if that happens then we’re probably going to do that fight. Alright? So if they both win then that fight makes all the sense in the world. And Georges St.Pierre said he’d move up to 185 and stay there."
Now comes a comparison from Yahoo! mainstream sports writer Dan Wetzel that GSP vs. Silva is something roughly equivalent to MMA's Pacquiao vs. Mayweather:
GSP vs. Silva involves that rare moment in time when the most sporting significant bout intersects directly with the territory of being the most fan-demanded, most financially lucrative fight currently available. In a world where contractual limitations don't exist, there are other fights that could be bigger. Fedor vs. Lesnar, perhaps at the time it was most feverishly demanded, could've been bigger. But that fight has lost its luster and is anyway unattainable. If we are talking about two fighters who exist in the same contractual universe whose pairing meets the aforementioned criteria, GSP vs. Silva stands alone.
But is Wetzel making more than a crude analogy? It is worth underscoring the differences between GSP vs. Silva and Pacquiao vs. Mayweather. As Wetzel mentions, there's animosity or at least real rivalry between Pacquiao and Mayweather. There's also something of a desperation factor, with boxing's promoters having fewer and far between opportunities to make large scale fights. The UFC still has somewhat of a luxury to pit Lesnar against any noteworthy heavyweight and draw large numbers, to say nothing of what the brand is capable of adding to virtually any main event. But like GSP vs. Silva, Pacquiao vs. Mayweather answers the question of who is the best fighter in the world and is also uniquely capable of being the most financially lucrative fight the sport can possibly make. No fight in the UFC is more requested by fight fans and putting this fight in a place like Toronto with the proper media hype would deliver what we can only imagine would be gigantic returns.
GSP vs. Silva is more Pacquiao vs. Mayweather's little brother than peer. It won't garner the world wide attention or breach the North American sporting consciousness in a way boxing's mega fight would. But putting on GSP vs. Silva would be hugely beneficial in raising the awareness of what MMA's finest fights can look and feel like, particularly in the absence of Pacquiao vs. Mayweather.
It's a no brainer for fight fans and appears to be getting serious traction among UFC brass. The best fighter always deserves to win, but for MMA's sake, I hope upstart challengers in Vitor Belfort and Jake Shields don't get in the way of history