If you went back in time only a couple years and asked any MMA fan walking the streets what the dream match-up in MMA was, you'd likely get only one answer: Anderson Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre.
And for years, this was the dream fight to end all dream fights. It was MMA's equivalent to Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, only (us MMA fans bragged then) this fight actually stood a good chance of happening.
People were talking about this fight as far back as 2006, when both St. Pierre and Silva first strapped on UFC belts. The talk ramped up in 2008, when GSP won his belt back from Matt Serra and Anderson Silva “ran out” of challengers at middleweight for the first of about 900 times.
For nearly half a decade, the top two slots in the special MMA “Circular, Subjective Argument Generator” – otherwise known as the top 5 Pound-for-Pound list – were traded between Silva and St. Pierre. Both guys fortunes rose and fell, each guy racing momentarily ahead of the other.
GSP dominates Thiago Alves while Silva dances around Thales Leites? GSP must be the man! Anderson Silva transcends the laws of physics to murder Forrest Griffin while GSP wrestles Dan Hardy’s arm for 25 minutes? Guess Andy is back on top! Folks would argue GSP’s wrestling would exploit the only weakness in Anderson Silva’s game. People said Anderson Silva’s striking would expose GSP’s fragile chin. There were theories and speculation galore.
And any day now, we would see them fight.
2009 was the year, fans said. Then 2010. Then 2011. Now it's 2012, and fans are turning blue in the face - mostly from holding their breath in anticipation for this fight.
With St. Pierre on the shelf, and Anderson nearing the end of his reign on dominance, the question begs to be asked:
Is Silva vs. St. Pierre officially dead?
And more than that, if it isn't dead from a timing/booking standpoint, is it dead from a fan interest standpoint? Would anyone out there still consider this the "Mecca" of MMA fights?
And if it isn't "dead", what are the chances we see this fight before one (or both) men fall off their athletic peaks - assuming they haven't already?
I think the earlier Pac/Floyd comparison is quite apt, because this fight too would pit a fighter who is nice, polite, idolized by his home fans, and catching tons of sh*t over his last fight, against perhaps the most technically perfect fighter in the game - who's personality no one can figure out.
Yes, this fight was the dream fight to end all dream fights, and at various times it looked close to being booked. But just like my "foolproof" plan in high school to wed Jessica Biel before I was 20 - well, sometimes things just don't work out like you plan.
I remember Georges first getting asked about a possible Anderson Silva fight at UFC 100, after he beat Thiago Alves. While accepting the fight in principal, he stated that moving up in weight would be a significant shift for him, that he'd have to talk it over with his coaches and entourage, and that it really depended on what the UFC had next for him.
GSP must have that speech committed to memory, because it's the same canned speech he gives every time Joe Rogan asks about facing Anderson during the post-fight interview. Now I love me some GSP, and lots of what he's saying makes total sense. But even I got to admit this is starting to sound like foot-dragging of some pretty epic proportions.
Maybe St. Pierre himself doesn’t want the Anderson Silva fight – and as a guy making seven figures a fight, absolutely tearing up the PPV charts, and totally dominating the competition in his weight class, who could really blame him for not wanting to change divisions? If he does want the fight, then perhaps someone in his entourage doesn’t think it’s a good idea, or is advising him not to commit to the fight in interviews to increase leverage for negotiations. Or maybe it’s the UFC itself urging GSP to fence sit, wary of the inevitability that for this fight to happen, one golden goose has to eat another.
And Anderson? The long-time middleweight champ once said his ideal opponent would be a clone of himself, which is ideal considering one of the biggest obstacles to making this fight is Silva himself.
Remember in early ’09, when all the buzz around the St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn fight had people buzzing about the other great P4P clash? Then Anderson stunk up the Bell Centre for 25 minutes against Thales Leites, and fans vowed never to buy an Anderson Silva PPV again.
Then the next year, serious talk about making this fight happen began to swirl again. GSP was even brought in to guest commentate the Silva vs. Maia main event at UFC 112, and would have ostensibly confronted him in the ring afterwards. Except that Silva vs. Maia happened, Dana White was furious, and once again fans vowed never to buy another Anderson Silva PPV. Silva got Sonnen, GSP got “The Ultimate Fighter”, and the rest is history.
So here’s my question to you: is this fight still “on the table”? Is there a realistic chance of making this fight happen – and if so, when?
And more than that: does this fight still mean anything to fans? Is it still the big deal it was only two short years ago? Or have other potential “superfights” involving the likes of Jon Jones, Junior Dos Santos, Jose Aldo and Dominick Cruz taken the spot of GSP/Silva as the fight MMA fans want to see?
By Elton Hobson