In the immediate aftermath of UFC 134, UFC president Dana White once again asserted that he’s interested in making that fight, that his organization’s stellar middleweight and welterweight champions are “both getting into a position here pretty soon” where it will make sense, but reiterated that each still has some business to take care of in his natural weight class first.
In other words, it sounded very similar to the company’s position back in February, when White said he’d consider booking Silva versus St. Pierre if “The Spider” took out Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 and GSP defeated Jake Shields at UFC 129. Obviously, both those victories came and went and a superfight didn’t materialize.
Yet, there is reason to believe UFC matchmakers are finally getting serious about setting up a bout between their two best fighters. Or at least, they should be. Not capitalizing – and capitalizing soon -- on this singular promotional opportunity would be very, very out-of-character for a company that prides itself on, in White’s words, “always delivering.”
Some three days after watching Silva toy with Yushin Okami for seven minutes before calmly dispatching him with strikes to seal his ninth 185-pound title defense and extend his record of consecutive wins in the Octagon to 14, a meeting with St. Pierre should appear more realistic than ever. After all, Silva looked about as dominant as we’ve seen him, St. Pierre is about to meet Nick Diaz in a fight he’s universally expected to win and just a couple of weeks ago the UFC finally landed the lucrative, landmark network television deal it’s been waiting on for years.
That confluence of factors makes it pretty clear: If the company is ever going book this fight, it needs to do it now.
The UFC knows full well the marketing gold it has here. The chance to have the world’s top two pound-for-pound fighters, a pair of guys who are both on the short list of candidates for “Greatest of All Time,” actually square off is something that could only come around once or twice in a generation. It also knows the shelf life for this fight is not unlimited. Silva versus St. Pierre probably needs to occur by spring 2012 -- when Silva will turn 37 and St. Pierre 31 -- and before either guy loses the glitter of invincibility that currently makes each so compelling.
There are still a couple of hurdles to get over, for sure. It’s still assumed Silva will take on the winner of Chael Sonnen versus Brian Stann at UFC 136, and St. Pierre needs to avoid a letdown against Diaz when they meet in October or November. But if those things happen -- and if both Silva and St. Pierre are game -- the promotion should (and we have to assume it will) put them in a cage together sometime very soon.