Timing never better for GSP-Silva fight

March, 23, 2012
3/23/12
5:39
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Dundas By Chad Dundas
ESPN.com
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Silva/St. PierreRic FogelThe time for talk is over: Let's get Anderson Silva, left, and Georges St. Pierre together in the cage.
The UFC’s long lost welterweight champion sounded downright chipper on Wednesday, when he beamed in via satellite to the company’s all-purpose Canadian news conference.

Georges St. Pierre has been in Los Angeles rehabbing his surgically repaired right knee lately and it seems like the California living agrees with him. The No. 1 ranked 170-pound and No. 2 ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world appeared highly optimistic about his progress (he’s on track for the fastest return from an ACL tear his doctors have seen, he said) and about the possibility he might get back in the cage as early as November.

St. Pierre even sounded fairly positive about the one topic he’s been least enthusiastic about over the last year or so -- a future fight with middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Where previously GSP didn’t seem too keen on the idea, he unexpectedly left the door open this week.

"If everything goes well, like the stars are aligned and everything, maybe we’ll see one day in the near future about what’s going to happen," St. Pierre said. "Am I going to go up [in weight]? Is [Silva] going to come down? It’s too far to think about it right now, but it’s something that can happen, of course."

Read those words once and they probably sound like nothing more than fairly typical GSP platitudes. Read them twice though and it’s hard not to notice -- hey, wait a second -- the stars already are aligned.

Truth is, there will never be a better, more opportune time to book the Silva-St. Pierre superfight than right here, right now.

Think about it: In the past, the biggest obstacle to actually setting up the mythical bout was GSP’s claim that he’d need several months of inactivity to naturally bulk up to 185 pounds. Well, he’s got that time now, doesn’t he? It’s fairly easy, in fact, to imagine the process of packing on 15 pounds dovetailing nicely with St. Pierre’s rehab efforts over the next eight months.

Not only that, but there may also never be a better time than right now to excuse the longtime titlist from the welterweight ranks. Interim champion Carlos Condit has his own extremely intriguing things going on and it would be simple -- not to mention marketable -- enough to have Condit fight the winner of the freshly announced Jake Ellenberger-Martin Kampmann fight sometime this fall. Provided Condit wins, he could lose the interim tag and then rematch Nick Diaz next year, as soon as Diaz’s marijuana suspension lapses.

Assuming Diaz doesn’t really hang up his gloves to become an amateur triathlete and herbal caregiver, of course.
[+] EnlargeSilva/Sonnen
Mark J. Rebilas for ESPN.comAfter a rematch with Chael Sonnen, the challenges at middleweight are few and far between for Anderson Silva.

The way things are playing out at middleweight, that division might also have a perfect window to stage a superfight sometime around St. Pierre’s targeted end-of-the-year return. We now know the UFC is close to locking down a June date for Silva to finally give Chael Sonnen a second crack at the title. After that, the 185 pound division’s schedule really opens up.

Matchmakers look nearly fresh out of options for giving Mark Munoz a credible No. 1 contender fight and Tim Boetsch’s scrap with Michael Bisping at UFC 148 sure isn’t going to produce the next middleweight title challenger. At least, it better not. So, unless we all agree we’re OK with Munoz proving his worth as top contender in a bout against the 8-0 Chris Weidman (which would be acceptable, I guess) it appears there will be no clear-cut next in line for the Silva-Sonnen winner.

Unless the next in line is Georges St. Pierre.

Maybe it sounds fanciful (and possibly unfair to slot him for such a superfight in his comeback from knee surgery) but GSP would be the most compelling and lucrative opponent of all.

If we’re allowed to strap on our fantasy matchmaker caps for a moment, we could just tell St. Pierre that -- while it’s great that he’s on pace for a record-setting recovery -- he shouldn’t strain himself, because he’s just going to be fighting for the middleweight title at the UFC's traditional Super Bowl weekend show on Feb. 2, 2013.

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