Anderson Silva has said that won't be taking a superfight against Jon Jones. Jon Jones has said that he won't be taking a superfight against Anderson Silva. Yet UFC president Dana White continues to publicly tell fans that he will make the fight happen, saying this weekend that "the amount of money that would be offered for that fight, I guarantee you I will make Anderson Silva say, 'Yes, yes, yes.'"
Kevin Iole, a man who, like myself, covers both MMA and boxing, said in an article yesterday that the UFC is running the risk of the situation turning into the UFC's version of Mayweather vs. Pacquiao:
It won't be much longer before White begins to hear the two words that should frighten the bejabbers out of any fight promoter who wants to put on the matches the public most wants to see: Mayweather-Pacquiao.
Anyone who has followed the completely ridiculous three-year saga involving boxers Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao is, unquestionably, sick of it now. They still haven't fought and, from all indications, they're no closer to a match now than they've ever been.
Far more damaging to Silva and the UFC, though, is the perception growing by the minute that Silva is somehow afraid of Jones.
Silva isn't afraid of Jones; no elite fighter is afraid of another man. It's sure the perception that Silva is creating, however, and that diminishes his legacy.
The major difference between Silva/Jones and Mayweather/Pacquiao is that Floyd and Manny hit their respective peaks at the same weight at roughly the same time. It's what made the whole thing so maddening for boxing fans. If you follow the sport you know the reputation for "big fights" never getting made is complete nonsense, but politics and ego have blocked this massive fight from taking place despite that there is no excuse for it not to happen.
With Silva and Jones, you're talking about an aging fighter of incredible talents moving up to fight a young, still physically growing phenom at a weight class twenty pounds heavier than his own.
Sure, Silva has gone up to light heavyweight three times in the UFC. But this past Saturday only happened because Silva was going out of his way to make sure that the card would have a main event after injuries left it without.
The issue I have with the entire situation (and this is something Fraser Cofeen touched on yesterday as well) is Dana's continued public statements that he'll make the fight happen. I have no doubt he is going to try like hell to get both men to sign on the dotted line. I also fully believe that Dana wants to see the fight as much because he wants to see what happens as because he wants to make a bunch of money off of it.
But when both men have stated repeatedly that they do not want the fight, Dana publicly saying that he'll make it happen, both to fans on Twitter and media at the UFC 153 post-fight press conference, he's putting the promotion in the position to look bad if it doesn't happen. And he's also putting his biggest superstars in the position to look bad if the fight doesn't happen.
Dana can (and absolutely should) try to negotiate for the fight in private. Offer Silva and Jones everything you can realistically offer in an attempt to get the two of them in the cage together, and don't stop offering.
But you'd think it'd be a better idea to leave your public statements to how you'll talk to everyone involved and see what's possible. Talk about loving the idea but soften the potential blow of the fight not happening by talking about how Silva isn't really a light heavyweight and how many other great fights there are out there for both men.
Just don't guarantee the fans something that you might not be able to deliver on. There is literally no one involved from a fighter, promotion or fan perspective that benefits.