The Super Fight
Anderson Silva retained his Middleweight Championship at UFC 126, fanning the fires of anticipation over the possibility of a “super fight” between himself and Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre.
UFC president Dana White confirmed that if St-Pierre should successfully defend his belt against challenger Jake Shields on April 30, the UFC would indeed set up a match between the two dominant fighters.
The UFC later confirmed that the super fight will not happen if Shields wins the title. The whole point of the super fight is that it would pit two virtually undefeated champions against each other – two fighters who are interchangeable at the top of most people’s pound for pound rankings. If Shields wins, GSP would drop way down on that list.
Uncle Dana also confirmed that once Georges makes the move to 185, he will stay there. Which begs the question, what of the welterweight belt? Would it immediately be vacated? Imagine for a moment that St-Pierre retains his belt at UFC 129. Sometime in the future, Silva and St-Pierre could fight for the middleweight belt on the same card that two top contenders fought for the vacated welterweight belt. GSP could hand it over.
Or, maybe GSP would keep the belt and possibly be the first UFC fighter to simultaneously hold a belt in two weight divisions, should he beat Silva.
At UFC 126, Jon Jones was announced as the next challenger for the Light Heavyweight Championship, due to an injury to scheduled contender Rashad Evans. Current champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua made it known afterwards that Quinton “Rampage” Jackson had first been offered the fight, but turned it down. He intimated that Rampage had used phony excuses to get out of a fight he didn’t really want.
But Rampage has only just begun training for a scheduled fight on May 28 and is still packing around Christmas weight. The championship fight takes place in only six weeks. As Jackson has stated, most of that time would be dedicated to losing the extra weight and not enough time would be put in to actually training for his opponent.
Jones, on the other hand, had just fought Ryan Bader, finishing him in the second round. He was not injured and was obviously in fight shape. In the post-fight press conference, he informed the media that he would actually be taking a few days off before going back and beginning to train for Rua.
While I personally believe that fighters should always be training and ready to fight at a moment’s notice, I know that is not always the case. For Jackon’s part, he does want to fight Shogun, but he wants to get in the cage at as close to 100% as possible. I don’t blame him. Only an idiot enters a title fight unprepared.
I like Rashad Evans. I do. But his announcement this week that, if his friend Jon Jones should defeat Mauricio Rua, Evans would either drop to middleweight or go up to heavyweight, to avoid fighting his friend, is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard.
This is a sport. In no other sport does someone decline to compete against a friend. What would happen if Serena Williams refused to challenge her sister Venus in a tennis match? Six Sutter brothers played in the NHL back in the day. At no time did they all play for the same team, which means <gasp!> they had to play each other!
Matthew Barnaby and Rob Ray are like best friends, but they were the enforcers on their respective hockey teams. It was not unusual for them to have dinner together, then face off against each other on the ice, then go out for beers afterwards. The irony there is that, when they fought on the ice, it was because they were pissed off at each other. But this is mma – you don’t have to be mad at your opponent, you just need to defeat him. So why can’t you fight your friend?
By refusing to fight a friend, I believe it actually hurts mma in terms of being considered a sport. Too many people still think of mma as “human cockfighting”. In that context, it’s totally understandable that you wouldn’t want to fight your friend. But as a sport, there is absolutely nothing wrong with beating up your friend, because that is the object of the game. Just like taking all your friend’s money is the object of poker.
This Saturday marks the beginning of Strikeforce’s much-ballyhooed heavyweight tournament. When it was first announced, I admit I was not as excited about it as I maybe should have been. I’m not a big fan of heavyweights anyway, but that’s not why. When I looked at the matchups, they just didn’t make sense to me.
For one thing, I didn’t understand why the current champion should have to fight in a tournament. Shouldn’t he fight the winner of any tournament?
But okay, so Alistair Overeem – the current champion – could get knocked out in the first round. Fine. But if he should make it to the second round, he could possibly face the top uncrowned heavyweight in Fedor Emelianenko. In the second round? Shouldn’t that be the fight we look forward to as the finalé?
Okay, so we take these two anomalies and accept them as we do. But, what about the belt? I mean, if Overeem should lose at any point in the tournament, how can he keep his belt? At one point, it came out that every match the champion was involved in would be a five-round title fight, meaning the belt could conceivably change hands as many as three times during the tourney. I like that! That suddenly made the whole thing 100% more interesting to me.
But then the official announcement came that the title would definitely not be on the line during the tournament. The winner of the tournament would fight Overeem at a later date. Which brings us back to, why is Overeem in the tournament? If he wins the whole thing, he can’t fight himself. And whomever he defeated to win the tournament would be the next contender, but he wouldn’t be eligible since he was just defeated by Overeem.
Is Strikeforce banking on Overeem losing one of these fights? The way they banked on Dan Henderson taking the title from Jake Shields?
This tournament showed a lot of promise and I believe the way it has been configured is only hurting Strikeforce. Believe me, I want to see Strikeforce succeed in all that they do, and many of their ideas are great, but too many are poorly executed.
And despite my reservations over those aspects of this tournament, I can’t help but look forward to this weekend, when we will see “The Last Emperor” take on “Bigfoot” (Antonio Silva), as well as the hopeful return of one-time UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski fighting against veteran up & comer Sergey Kharitonov.