It seems that all too often these days the hot topic on everyone’s mind in the MMA world is superfights. Whether it’s Anderson Silva vs. George St. Pierre or Jon Jones it seems as though everyone is dead set on finding a way to make them happen. Of course these are very appealing options and would certainly draw the big crowds and revenue the UFC desires, however there is still top talent in all three divisions, chomping at the bit for their chance at a title shot and until they have been given their deserving shot the word “superfight” should not be thrown around so freely.
First lets take a look at the welterweight division: Champion Georges St. Pierre has reigned supreme for the better part of four and a half years and during his reign he has grinded out win after win in what at times may seem like a lackluster performance but usually dominating fashion, cementing his legacy as one of the best mixed martial artists to ever grace the octagon.
St. Pierre though is already scheduled to face what will undoubtedly be his toughest test yet in interim champ Carlos Condit who earned his shot by picking apart Nick Diaz in a somewhat controversial judge’s decision. Add to that the likes of Rory MacDonald who has destroyed all comers with the lone exception being Condit.
It has been well documented that neither St. Pierre or MacDonald have any interest in fighting one another due to the fact they train together at Montreal’s famed Tri Star Gym, but one has to believe when the title is on the line, everyone has their price. Also we seem to be seeing a resurgence in the career of Demain Maia since his drop to 170lbs and as a former challenger for Silva’s middleweight title, with a another win or two he could see himself right in the mix for the welterweight crown.
And of course let’s not forget the two men that will square off in what has been dubbed a title eliminator fight, Johnny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann. These two have been on their own separate roles as of late with Hendricks going 8-1 since coming to the UFC in 2009 including 4 straight wins. Kampmann on the other hand has rebounded from back to back losses to pick up three straight wins over Rick Story (who is Hendricks lone defeat), former title challenger Thiago Alves and fast rising star Jake Ellenberger. Given the fact there are so many names still in the mix how do you justify having your champ move up in weight to create a superfight?
Moving on to the middleweight division: Of course Anderson Silva has been the most dominant champion in UFC history at 185lbs since 2006 and after what we witnessed Saturday night at UFC 153 when he moved to 205lbs to meet Stephan Bonnar one has to wonder if there is any man on the planet capable of dethroning the champ.
What we do know is that there is two men that have at least done their part in earning a shot. Michael Bisping has been near the top of the division since he dropped to middleweight four years ago, and with only one loss in his last six fights coming at the hands of two time challenger Sonnen in a razor thin decision followed by a decision win over fast rising star Brian Stann, he (Bisping) is right there knocking on the door for his title shot.
Alongside Bisping we see another young gun that goes by the name of Chris Weidman who’s quickly worked his way up the ranks with wins over the likes of Alessio Sakara, former challenger Demian Maia and an impressive KO over Mark Munoz. Weidman has also been quite vocal in his attempt at getting a crack at Silva. He’ stated in the past that he feels the champ is ducking him and that he knows he can beat him.
With Silva fresh off his victory over Bonnar in which he took little to no damage whatsoever, why not give one of these two very deserving challengers their shot sooner rather than later in an effort to clear out the division if a superfight scenario is all so important?
Last but certainly not least we have the light heavyweight division: The young, brash, and ultra talented champion Jon Jones is on a current path of destruction that may only compare to that of Silva’s. Jones has dismantled everyone put in front of him, including five former champions in his last five fights and has managed to take minimal damage along the way with his biggest threat coming in his last outing at UFC 152 vs. Vitor Belfort in which he fought his way out of a deep arm bar.
The big talk of late is the possibility of Jones facing two time middleweight challenger the always outspoken Chael Sonnen and we found out today that they will coach opposite each other on TUF 17. Now while many may not see this as being billed a superfight due to the fact a title would be on the line, it has to be given consideration. Sonnen has fought the best of the best at middleweight and wants to be thrown into the immediate mix at light heavyweight. However just as the welterweight and middleweight divisions there are still contenders more deserving of a title shot before we can give Sonnen his crack at Jones.
Dan Henderson who was originally scheduled to fight Jones at UFC 151 before injuring his knee and pulling out of the fight, which in turn was the beginning of the end for the entire card. Hopefully Hendo will regain his health and reenter contention soon. Also we also have Lyoto Machida who was originally given number one contender status by Dana White only to have it revoked as we’ve seen with so many other fighters over the years.
Both these men have put together wins that are deserving of a shot at the belt, so why allow a division newcomer to leapfrog his way to the spot? You could make the argument that Machida blew his opportunity when he was asked to step in on short notice to fight Jones at UFC 152 but declined the shot which was then given to Belfort. Given the fashion in which Jones defeated Machida in their first outing how can anyone blame him for wanting a full camp to prepare for the champ?
As fans we all want to see these dream match ups, but at the same time should we not be happy that there is enough top tier talent to keep the divisions going strong for a while longer? GSP will be coming off a long layoff due to injury when he steps in against Condit next month and what if he drops his title? Does that take away from the “superfight” allure? Superfights are a great option to have in the back pocket but while the divisions are still fresh with deserving talent they need to remain left alone.