This is going to be a long one, people. If you’re not up for a bunch of words being thrown at your eyeballs, sit this one out.
This write-up is a direct response to Jonathan Snowden’s post over at Bloody Elbow. His thesis is essentially “GSP vs. Silva is more spectacle than sport because the welterweight champion would be giving up a size advantage to his middleweight counterpart. With that in mind, the fight shouldn’t happen, and shame on everybody for wanting it in the first place.”
Once again, Snowden is taking an idea that the general consensus of MMA fans seem to agree on – that GSP vs. Silva is a fight that not only should happen, but in some ways needs to – and arguing against it simply for the sake of being, as he puts it himself, “contrarian.” Now, Snowden doesn’t actually admit to being contrarian, but merely uses the word to point out that many people accuse him of being so, and that such a characterization is simply misguided. It’s merely coincidence that he always seems to have an opinion that vastly differs from the majority, he would argue.
All I’ll do in response to that is call bullshit, obviously, and point out that Snowden has an obvious incentive to continue to support the “contrarian” view on certain “polarizing” topics: it stirs people up, which gets extra hits to the web site he writes for. It also gets people to focus on him, as opposed to the topic itself, which in turn makes him a bit more “infamous” in this MMA community we’re all a part of. That attention can only help the sales of those books he publishes every so often. To that end, I suppose credit must be given to Mr. Snowden. Even those that see through the bullshit still wind up feeding right into it, as I’m doing right now. So congrats buddy.
I won’t waste any more time focusing on Snowden, who in many ways is the Fox News of the MMA media, but will instead use this to post spell out the reasons why GSP vs. Silva makes a helluva lot of sense. I’m sure most of you who support this fight are already aware of most of what I am about to say, but why not use this space to spell it all out?
For starters, there is essentially nothing left for either man to prove against the contenders in their respective divisions. Sure, some purists would argue that Yushin Okami has been promised a shot against Silva, but does anyone really expect “Thunder” to pose a legitimate threat to the man that has finished world class guys like Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Vitor Belfort, Nate Marquardt, and Chael Sonnen? If Okami really is the top contender in the division, he should have little problem beating whoever the UFC puts in front of him. On top of that, the Japanese-born fighter is only currently riding a three fight win streak. These days it takes most fighters wins in six, seven, or sometimes even eight fights in a row before fighting for the belt.
More after the jump.
As for GSP, some want to see him fight the winner of Penn vs. Fitch II, if that fight is indeed booked. But GSP has already bested both men decisively, and actually holds two wins over Penn. Other than those men, there are rising contenders like Carlos Condit, Rick Story, and Diego Sanchez who might be due for a shot at the champ sometime soon. But the fact remains that not one of them has truly earned a shot at the belt just yet.
With all of that in mind, the fact is that the biggest threat to the dominance of both GSP and Silva is the other man. This is a sport where we are in a continuing search to truly find out who the best is. Both of these champions are inarguably the best in their respective divisions – and, most believe, the best in any division – so why not put them together to decide who is currently the absolute best in the world, or even the best of all-time?
The opposing argument is that Silva’s size advantage is just too great for GSP to overcome, regardless of his skill, heart, or talent. But how often in this sport do we see two fighters battle where there is a significant size difference between them? Anyone at lightweight who has faced off with the oversized Gleison Tibau can attest to that. Any heavyweight that hovers around 230-240 pounds who has had to trade blows with men like Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin can back up my point as well. Moreover, GSP has consistently said that he would need time to put on the necessary muscle mass were he to compete with Silva. He currently walks around close to 190 pounds, so it isn’t entirely inconceivable that he could get up to nearly 200 if given the right amount of time to prepare and a good strength and conditioning coach. While Silva would still have a size advantage, it would be even more negligible than it is now.
Also, GSP is a guy who has consistently vocalized his desire to challenge himself and to become the best fighter ever. It’s not far-fetched to imagine that his recent public comments on taking the fight with Silva are more negotiating tactics than legitimate hesitation.
The point is that there are no true challenges left for Georges St. Pierre at 170 pounds. He has proven time and again that he is at another level in comparison to his welterweight counterparts. The only place for him to go right now is to the weight class above his, to face the Brazilian champion who no one else has been able to stop. Snowden is right when he says that there is a large element of spectacle in a potential GSP vs. Silva fight. But why is that a bad thing? Sport is spectacle. As fans, we sit and watch these athletes compete in the trenches and prove themselves, just so that we can savor the moments of when truly great things transpire – when sport and spectacle become one and the same. GSP vs. Silva is the pinnacle of both sport and spectacle, and there is no good reason why it shouldn’t happen.
That is, unless Jake Shields pulls off the impossible on April 30th, at which point this entire argument will have been for nothing. Don’t you even think about ruining this for me, Jake.