Jones impresses, but Silva doesn't loom
DENVER -- Even more so than a title fight or the most heated of rivalries, fans of combat sports want to see the best fight the best.
It's why we have pound-for-pound rankings (basically nothing more than a silly guess as to who the best fighter in the world is). It's why in boxing, fans literally ache to see Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight Manny Pacquiao.
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After watching Jon Jones dominate a very game Quinton Jackson at UFC 135 on Saturday, there will be a large contingency of mixed martial arts fans asking for a superfight between Jones and middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
UFC president Dana White, who said Wednesday he didn't agree Jones should be as high in the pound-for-pound rankings as he is with just 14 fights on his record, retracted those thoughts Saturday.
"When I went into the [Octagon], he said, 'Will you give me my pound-for-pound respect now?'" White said of Jones. "I said, 'You did it.' The great thing right now is how serious Rampage took this fight; [Jones] beat the best Rampage."
Here's the sad truth, though. Although a fight between Jones and Silva would be, from a competitive standpoint, possibly the most intriguing matchup the UFC could make, it's not happening anytime soon.
It very well may never happen.
When asked about a potential fight between the two, White replied, and rightly so, the line of fighters between Silva and the 24-year-old champion is long.
"The problem is this [light heavyweight] division is stacked," White said. "He has a lot of fights ahead of him. The guys who have been fighting at 205 have those slots and they deserve the respect of a title fight before any superfight.
"And, a lot of people don't really think about this, [Silva] is 37 years old."
Silva (31-4) has shown absolutely zero evidence of slowing down. He won a tough fight against Chael Sonnen in August 2010, but minus that, the Brazilian has overwhelmed every one of his opponents in recent memory.
But eventually time catches up with every great fighter, and rushing Jones (14-1) into a fight against Silva just for the sake of doing it before his career is over is not something the UFC or his management is going to do.
"Any fight that interests Jon is a fight that interests me, but that fight is nowhere on the horizon," said Malki Kawa, Jones' manager. "At some point in time in the future, Jon will be fighting in the biggest fights in UFC history.
"But we're not looking at that. We're looking at Rashad [Evans] and the other 205-ers."
It is a shame the two can't fight one another. Tomorrow.
Against Jackson, Jones was, in a sense, Silva-esque. One of the best indicators of that might be a quote from Jackson himself.
At the postfight news conference, Jackson interrupted the media to ask a question of his own. In the beginning of the fight, Jones came out in a crouched stance -- so low he actually kept one hand on the canvas.
Jackson didn't show it in the fight, but afterwards he admitted he had no idea how to react or what to do.
"I got a question," Jackson said from the stage. "Jones, what the hell were you doing in the beginning of the first round?"
Jones-Jackson By The Numbers
|Total Strikes Landed/Att||74/131||24/52|
The question elicited laughter from the crowd but it's one many former opponents of Silva have likely had. Silva is known for dropping his hands in the middle of a fight. Stomping his feet and hitting himself in the face, basically throwing a temper tantrum.
Like Silva, Jones dropped his hands in the third round when it became clear Jackson's legs weren't as strong as they were in the beginning of the fight. He landed his unorthodox spinning back-elbow in the first round, despite the fact Jackson prepared extensively for it.
"He landed one of those spinning elbows," Jackson said. "I trained against those and I thought I had his number. But I take my hat off to him. He's good."
Really, the only value pound-for-pound rankings possess is they are a way to evaluate fighters against one another who will never fight. Bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz will never fight heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. So, to say who's better, we guess in the form of pound-for-pound rankings.
Unfortunately, despite the fact their builds are similar and it would be an amazing fight, we might have to do the same for Jones and Silva.
Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.
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