Jones/Silva bout would need stars to align

December, 14, 2011
12/14/11
1:38
PM ET
Mindenhall By Chuck Mindenhall
ESPN.com
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Jon Jones likes Anderson Silva, and Silva likes Jones -- and they’ve not kept it a secret. They’ve been admiring friends who’d just assume never have to see each other in the cage. Each has his own territory, and neither is enthusiastic to trespass.

In fact, traditionally, both take media theoreticals of a superfight match-up between them as a form of flattery. The “wow, that would be an immense challenge” sort of response. The thing is, all this mutual reverence begins to feel like trepidation -- from the UFC as much as from them. "Each could destroy the other." That’s a concept that neither guy is particularly used to. Yet it’s the same idea that piques fan interest in seeing it. What happens when indomitable meets indestructible? Silva’s impossible movement and precision striking against Jones and all that reach and creativity? Somebody comes across more mortal, is what, while the other transcends to mythological proportions.

In a sport all about finding out who the best fighter is, in 2012 it might boil down to those two names -- particularly with Georges St. Pierre currently out of the picture while he recovers from an ACL tear.

This is why a superfight between Jones and Silva should at least be discussed. You have the definitive No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world in Silva, who has never lost in the UFC, against a 24-year-old phenom who lay waste to the 205-pound division in 2011. Both guys still have challenges in their respective divisions, which is the bigger point of contention with the UFC, a promotion that likes those champions with wanderlust to leave things tidied before straying off. Jones still has a bone to pick with Rashad Evans, a challenge in Dan Henderson, an intriguing match with Phil Davis. Silva has the bane of his existence in Chael Sonnen, along with less intriguing challenges with Mark Munoz and Michael Bisping.

The other contention is that Jones would never make 185 pounds, so it would be up to Silva to be the interloper -- and he has cooled on the light heavyweight division of late. It doesn’t help matters that Jones has his sights set the other way, toward the heavyweight division, once his reign at 205 pounds is done and he’s finished growing into his frame.
[+] EnlargeSilva/Griffin
Ed Mulholland for ESPN.comA Jones-Silva bout would hinge on Silva, who has tested the light heavyweight waters before.

Put it all together, and each champion is safely out of the other’s way for now. And that probably means that each is out of each other’s way for good. Silva will be an avuncular 37 years old when he fights next, after his rest period to recover from bursitis in his shoulder, and Dana White points this fact out. When pressed on the mega-potential, White oscillates on the idea of this particular superfight between having no interest in it and being mildly intrigued.

Either way, there’s not exactly a sense of urgency to make it happen.

The only way it could become a possibility is if Silva and Jones take a sudden turn and develop a distaste for one another. And it’s possible that Silva took umbrage at Jones’ indelicate handling of his better friend, Lyoto Machida, at UFC 140. We know that Silva can be sensitive in such matters. Should he go on record saying he wants to fight Jones, the competitor in Jones would welcome it. It would be up to Silva to fire some shots, because he’d be the division traveler, and as the best fighter in the company the UFC would field his requests.

But should they stay reverent of each other, throwing high fives across the Equator, a superfight between Jones and Silva just doesn’t look all that imminent. In fact, it looks like a non-event, best left to our speculation as to how something as immense as that would play out.

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