Saturday, September 15, 2012
What happens if Anderson Silva loses?
By Brett Okamoto
With the potential of a superfight with GSP looming, is Anderson Silva taking on too much of a risk?
The newly announced UFC 153 main event between middleweight champion Anderson Silva and light heavyweight Stephan Bonnar raises plenty of topics for discussion.
Perhaps the most intriguing of all: What if Silva loses?
As difficult as it is to envision Bonnar pulling off a miracle in Brazil (betting odds have him listed as a 13-to-1 underdog), those who have followed the sport long enough know that anything can happen.
Everyone loves a champion-versus-champion fight and the UFC has a potential monster one on its hands in 2013. Interest in a superfight between Silva and welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre has existed for years. Neither man has lost in five years.
In a perfect world, even if Silva did lose, fans would look past it (he took a fight on short notice against a bigger opponent as a favor to the UFC, who cares?) and still rack up pay-per-view buys and fill every seat in Cowboys Stadium for the fight.
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In a matchup where so much hinges on the perception of invincibility, however, a Silva loss could be devastating.
The situation draws parallels to what's happened in boxing in 2012. Despite years of negotiations, a fight between superstars Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao has failed to materialize.
In June, Pacquiao suffered a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley in Las Vegas -- his first since 2005. Even though many who saw the fight scored it for Pacquiao, the blemish on his record changes several aspects of negotiating and promoting the Mayweather fight.
UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta sees certain similarities between the two, but says ultimately the Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has taken a hit because of boxing's inability to make the fight at the right time.
St. Pierre and Silva are just now entering that right time.
"It's just my opinion that Mayweather-Pacquiao would still probably break records," Fertitta told ESPN.com. "However, I do think [Pacquiao's loss] took some of the shine off the fight. Where the parallel ends is they had the opportunity to make that fight for years and couldn't or wouldn't do it, whereas St. Pierre and Silva both had things they had to accomplish."
Given Fertitta's stance on the situation in boxing, however, why then would the UFC risk losing half of its equation for the superfight with a Silva loss?
Could Stephan Bonnar be the cog that spoils the UFC's best-laid plans?
St. Pierre is a different story. The Canadian comes off being sidelined more than a year due to injury this November against a tough Carlos Condit. But Silva was there. Peaked. Ready for the super fight.
In speaking to both Fertitta and UFC president Dana White, the answer is simple. In a sport where so much is unpredictable, the promotion can't afford to hold single pieces of a super fight in the hope the other necessary pieces work out.
"When we talk about these superfights, we have to see what happens," White said. "So many things can pop up along the way. Who knows what could happen? St. Pierre could lose to Condit. He could blow his knee out again. Nothing is in the bank."
The somewhat desperate circumstances of the UFC 153 event -- both the main and co-main event fell apart on the same day due to injuries -- obviously contributed.
"We still have a long way to go before we make [Silva-St. Pierre]," Fertitta said. "Carlos Condit poses a tremendous challenge to St. Pierre. In addition, we looked at what our options were and who was available and Anderson made the most sense."
Getting back to the original question in a very direct way -- what happens if Silva loses?
Anything can happen (in the case of Pacquiao, the Filipino somewhat surprisingly opted against a Bradley rematch and has signed onto a fourth fight against Juan Manuel Marquez), but Fertitta said there would be an immediate rematch in the event Silva lost.
In terms of what that means to a fight against St. Pierre, the UFC president is correct by saying, "Who knows?" One concern Fertitta personally doesn't have, however, is for Silva's legacy -- which currently places him in the eyes of many as the best ever.
"His legacy is cemented," Fertitta said. "I don’t think it would take anything away from that. It might change some of his future fights down the road, but that's it."