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Thursday, January 9, 2014
A Silva-GSP bout no longer makes sense

By Brett Okamoto

Chris Weidman, Anderson Silva
Chris Weidman made sure a bout between Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre would never have the same ring to it.

We're closing in on two weeks since Anderson Silva's injury at UFC 168 -- which is to say, it just happened. That terrible, hair-raising thing just happened, not long ago.

Any discussion at the moment about where and whom Silva could fight next seems borderline barbaric. Let's see him walk first.

But then, Dr. Steven Sanders, the orthopedic surgeon who operated on Silva, said the former champ was asking about his return during surgery pre-op. Silva's managers, Jorge Guimaraes and Ed Soares, commented on MMAJunkie.com on a potential fight against currently retired superstar Georges St-Pierre.

If Silva’s own team is discussing it, then boom. I guess we don’t need to feel guilty about doing the same. Let’s talk superfights, yeah?

Here’s the biggest problem with a fight between Silva and St-Pierre (there are plenty, but this fundamental one is a good place to start): The only reason it ever made sense to begin with (determining who the best fighter in the world was, which it really wouldn't have done anyway, but let’s stay on topic here) no longer exists.
Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks
A late rally by Georges St-Pierre, left, helped edge him past Johny Hendricks -- in the eyes of the judges, at least.

With Silva on an 0-2 skid (and coming off injury) and St-Pierre perfect in his past 12 but undeniably past his absolute peak as an athlete, neither can be considered the best fighter in the world anymore.

That is to take nothing away from their respective legacies, but in the here and now, their stakes in the claim of best in the world are not what they used to be.

It only (barely) ever made sense for them to meet in the Octagon. Silva has a frame best suited for middleweight or light heavyweight. St-Pierre wasn't even the biggest welterweight in the division. We were willing to ignore this and let them fight anyway, because you know, superfights.

The only reason there would be to revisit this is because it was a bout that was hyped for years. Nostalgia is a powerful thing and to be clear, this fight would sell as a UFC pay-per-view main event -- but it would be like paying for an Adam Sandler movie. It might remind us of better times, but ultimately disappoint.

The ironic part to this is that in all those years, the pressure was on St-Pierre to accept the fight. It was easier to argue Silva couldn't cut to 170 pounds than it was to defend St-Pierre’s unwillingness to bulk up to 185. Plus, Silva was the one with the No. 1 pound-for-pound rank, almost like a belt St-Pierre was supposed to take.

Now, St-Pierre doesn't need Silva -- not even a little bit. He knows that any return to the Octagon will sell pay-per-views, regardless of whom it's against, and right now, eventually reclaiming the welterweight title might be more boss than beating Silva anyway.

This is all, of course, still relatively ridiculous to talk about. St-Pierre is, as far as we know, happy in retirement and Silva has barely changed out of his hospital pajamas. Envisioning them in a cage together means looking well into the future.

And that just adds to the problems. We're picking out rather large issues in a fight that wouldn't even happen for another 12-14 months at the earliest.

Both all-time greats have earned the right to either enjoy retirement or come back and fight at the highest level if they so choose -- but if it's the latter, it shouldn't be against each other.

Let them return to a fight that make sense, rather than one that barely ever did to begin with.