On July 27th, Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan was a featured guest on UFC analyst Joe Rogan’s podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience. Keenan broached the topic of Anderson Silva, asking what’s next for the pound-for-pound king. Rogan gave two options, Chris Weidman or a super fight with GSP. Then again yesterday, during a Metro PCS Q&A session, UFC President Dana White echoed the sentiment, saying that both Silva and St-Pierre want the fight, and it will likely happen if St-Pierre gets by Condit in their title unification bout. While it’s made headlines, it certainly hasn’t been as impactful as one would expect.
When Georges St-Pierre defended his UFC welterweight championship against then lightweight champion B.J. Penn in January of 2009, Dana White expressed an interest in making Silva-GSP happen. Three years have gone by. If the fight takes place in 2013, it will have been four years since fans first began clamoring for the bout. Is it really a wonder that it’s largely met with a lukewarm reaction at this point?
Anderson Silva’s infamous performance against Thales Leites saw the middleweight king come into the bout at 182 lb., as always, over-analytical MMA fans read too much into it and felt that Anderson was on his way to welterweight to face GSP. This prompted the arena to begin a “GSP!” chant during “The Spider’s” unanimously panned performance on the night. Try as they might, the UFC could not convince St-Pierre to take the fight, he felt he needed time to move up to middleweight properly and make the division his permanent home.
Fast forward to present day and what is a fight between, at worst, two of the greatest fighters on the planet is finally in the sights of promotion, yet it’s not GSP that fans want to see Silva face, it’s Jon Jones. Although “Bones” has had one of the most impressive runs in recent memory, he’s still growing as a mixed martial artist. Yet someone as established as GSP is no longer on the radar of fans as a challenger for the Black House fighter. Why is that?
As previously mentioned, time is a huge factor in this situation and four years of the viewership wishing the bout could happen has simply left them jaded. We’ve seen this same effect once before. It took four years for UFC light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell and PRIDE middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva to meet and by the time they did, they had their titles taken and were coming off of losses. While the clash of legends proved to be an instant classic, it was just too little, too late in the eyes of many.
The biggest problem seems to be the timing of the announcement for the proposed bout. The Tristar MMA product’s inactivity of late must be looked at as a determining factor. GSP hasn’t fought in over 16 months due to a torn ACL. To make matters worse, his most recent performance against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields can only be described as tepid at best. If “Rush” looks to make a statement against Carlos Condit and wins in impressive, dominant fashion, perhaps the bout is sellable again.
No one in the promotion’s history have had dominant runs the likes of Silva and St-Pierre. A match-up between the two could be the most important bout in the history of not only the UFC, but the sport of mixed martial arts.