October, 31, 2012
By Chuck Mindenhall
Esther Lin/Getty ImagesDana White expects Ronda Rousey to lead the women's MMA march into the Octagon.The new buzzword in the UFC is “absolutely.”
There absolutely will be women’s MMA in the UFC, now that Ronda Rousey has enough depth to make up for a division. The UFC absolutely will visit Puerto Rico again. Ditto Boston, and India, and Columbus. And Jon Jones versus Anderson Silva will “absolutely happen.”
Dana White is playing fast and loose with the concept of certainty, something that did away with lesser men (like Nietzsche). It’s one of the perks of being the UFC’s president. It’s easy to double-pinky swear on things when circumstances change daily, right along with our interests. There are no guarantees in a sport as fickle as this one. So, take these things for granted, or as assurances, or as bold declarations.
Or, you know, with a grain of salt, for surely he must be winking.
Will we really see Rousey in the UFC? Maybe, but it’s hard to be certain of something so intricately tied to uncertainty. White has fallen in love with the idea of having Rousey in the Octagon. He knows a star when he sees one, but he also knows that right now she still has a contract with Strikeforce that lasts three more fights. He’s not meddling in those affairs, as he’s told anybody who asks about Strikeforce’s future. Maybe the fact that he wants Rousey on a future UFC pay-per-view explains the cold disconnect he has (re-)established with Showtime.
Of course, we’ll have to see what unfolds. Rousey could lose in January, and the whole women’s MMA thing goes bunk. These are conditional absolutes at best.
But what about this thing between Jon Jones and Anderson Silva? Jones is sitting in a position where he (admittedly) has a finite number of fights left at 205 pounds. After his coaching stint on the “Ultimate Fighter 17,” he’ll fight Chael Sonnen in April. During Tuesday’s MetroPCS chat, Jones said he’d still like to fight Dan Henderson sometime in the future. And, toward the end of 2013, he’s already imagining himself as a heavyweight.
So, where does Anderson Silva fit into that trajectory? Aha, you see -- he doesn’t. Silva is the hinge piece to superfights. He sits right between Georges St. Pierre and Jon Jones, and it’s a tug-of-war between fans as to which superfight makes the most sense. This, too, can change abruptly.
Should St. Pierre walk through Carlos Condit in a couple of weeks at UFC 154, the Silva-Jones talk will be muted for a bit. St. Pierre could make his case for the biggest fight in UFC history on Nov. 17.
And if that happens, it’s hard to imagine Silva and Jones being made -- at least any time soon. And soon is the only time this fight should be made. Silva will turn 38 years old in April, the same month that Jones will be fighting Sonnen. Setting the Jones-Silva fight on some distant horizon is a game of roulette. One of them could lose somewhere along the way. Silva could retire. Somebody could get hurt (as St. Pierre did) and end up on the shelf for a year.
For that very reason, matching Jones and Silva can never be a passing interest or a passive pursuit. It needs to be decisive and definitive and soon. Right now, we’re just marveling at the idea, and saying it’ll “absolutely happen” to rev up anticipation in case it becomes the case. And that’s sort of good enough to keep the embers orange.
The truth is, the things that White says “absolutely will happen” very well could happen. It’s not impossible to imagine Rousey in the UFC anymore, particularly if Strikeforce is dissolved. It’s not impossible to see Silva-Jones being made, particularly now they have come around to the idea of fighting each other. But zero in on the next logical question, and certainty falls back into the hands of chance. When will these things happen?
Hey now, a lot can change ... and we’ll have to wait and see.