Now that Anderson Silva has done away with Stephan Bonnar, a perfunctory matter that he handled with the usual play-action legerdemain, we can go back to disagreeing with his finicky taste in opponents.
We can, and we will.
Why not UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones next? Why not middleweight contender Chris Weidman, at least? Why must it be Georges St. Pierre or bust? And from the outside looking in, could there have been a more fudging ad campaign than the “anytime, anywhere” one attached to Silva in the UFC 153 promos? After all, the UFC had to pull teeth to get him to fight Chael Sonnen a second time. (And for whatever reason, now it’s Jones’ teeth being pulled to warm up to the idea of the ever-pesky Sonnen. The fight game, ladies and gentlemen.)
But think about all the entitlements going on at this moment.
We are resting our heads on our knuckles at the prospect of a St. Pierre-Silva superfight. The one that was on everybody’s minds a couple of years ago. Neither Silva nor St. Pierre has lost in the meantime. St. Pierre’s been hurt -- and he still has to get through Carlos Condit -- but he’s been dominant. Silva’s been choosy, but he’s been every bit the pound-for-pound best in the sport for years.
The prospect of those two coming together at long last should look like a clash of the titans. One for the ages and all that.
Problem is, with Jones out there punishing his weight class the same way that Silva is -- and with Silva cameoing from time to time at 205 pounds and already the right size -- we return to our druthers. We trade whatever Silva’s sense of entitlement is for our own. Jones-Silva is a ridiculous fight. It’s the more ridiculous fight. It’s a more fitting, timely, impossible to ignore potential mega-clash that could fill a 100,000-seat stadium.
It’s the ultimate for a company that uses just those kinds of adjectives in its very name.
And it’s the fight everybody wants except for the guys throwing the punches. That last part? Why, that’s just something to overcome. At least according to UFC president Dana White, who is confident he can open a dialogue between the two with a Brink’s truck.
The truth is, he probably can. Jones has made it clear he’s a brand. Brands need money to be brands. Silva, too, is a brand. Humans with laurels, yes, but brands with the ability to reason and rationalize and with business-minded people working their ears.
Leverage opens the floodgates for possibility, so Jones-Silva could happen.
But what’s funny is that at 16-0 in the UFC and as the longest reigning champion in company history, we really don’t like Silva dictating his schedule. We suspect vulnerability right away, because, as everybody should know by now, greatness comes with a need to be destroyed. We are forever giving way to those suspicions.
Right now Jones is the highest-watt fight the UFC can possibly put on, a fight that Silva would enter as an underdog. And if Silva thinks Weidman is too green for a title shot, it’s because he has an ounce of kryptonite.
That’s how we see it. And there’s truth in it. That’s just how it works.
Even as Silva defies odds in MMA -- odds that are impossible in terms of four-ounce gloves -- we constantly want Silva to prove something to us. That’s just life in a company that rolls out its motto as “the ultimate proving ground.” Proof is ongoing. In fact, when you think about it, proof is forever out of our grasp. If Silva walked through GSP, Jones and Weidman, there would be people pointing out how foolish he’d look against Cain Velasquez or whoever else has come up the rungs at that time.
Silva is 37 years old, and he’s the best we’ve seen in this sport. When he dropped his hands and began to wig out on Bonnar, it was of the “here it comes” familiarity. We have seen this switch before with Forrest Griffin, with Yushin Okami, with Sonnen. That moment when Silva comes to life and the games are over, when the guy in front of him turns to prey.
That’s when he knocks the extra off of extraordinary men. He leaves them ordinary.
Could he do that to Jones, or Weidman, or St. Pierre? Wrong question. What we’re keeping vigilance for is the guy who could make Silva appear that way. And by pining for Jones, we aren’t exactly masking the fact.