Opinion: Do We Need Superfights?
By Jesse Heitz
While UFC 153 has come and gone, it has undoubtedly left us with a worthwhile point of reflection. I submit that this point of reflection centers on the fact that several of the UFC’s weight divisions have champions that are unlikely to be beaten by men in their own respective weight classes.
UFC 153 has highlighted the situation that the UFC’s middleweight division currently finds itself in. It has a long-reigning champion who has utterly obliterated every single man who has stepped into the Octagon with the misguided hopes of relieving him of his championship belt. Naturally, we step the aforementioned middleweight, Anderson Silva, up to light heavyweight for a few bouts, with the goal of re-energizing the fans, and perhaps allowing the talent pool in Silva’s native weight division to recover.
Yet, the result is the same, total and complete domination. Now, this could very well be due to the level of competition, or rather, the given skill sets of the light heavyweight opposition. The UFC brass decides to showcase the talent—or test the ability, of Anderson Silva by giving him light heavyweight opponents such as: James Irvin, Forrest Griffin, and Stephan Bonnar.
However, these opponents provide a false positive of sorts. Sure, it furthers the case that Anderson Silva is among the greatest fighters of all time, but it’s important to keep in mind that he’s tailored to beat these opponents. James Irvin, while heavy-handed, was and is a journeyman. Forrest Griffin, while a former light heavyweight champion, never had the phenomenal wrestling or striking required to defeat Silva. The same can be said about Bonnar, a man of tremendous heart, but still a man who at best was a gatekeeper at 205 pounds.
In one month, on November 17, UFC 154 is set to take place at the Bell Centre in Montreal. The card is headlined by a welterweight championship bout between Georges St-Pierre and former WEC kingpin Carlos Condit. Personally, I think the result will be similar to previous GSP fights; he’ll grind out a unanimous decision victory.
Condit is arguably the most dangerous opponent left for GSP in the welterweight division, and yet one can easily envision the near inevitable outcome. GSP has fought men with better submissions, wrestling, and striking, than that of Condit, and has cleanly beaten them all.
While it’s possible that Condit may pull off the upset, it’s unlikely. It is here that the problem lies. Sure there are a few interesting challengers left for GSP at 170 pounds, but his real threat of defeat comes from the likes of a king from different weight class, such as Anderson Silva.
Indeed, the long-rumored Superfight between GSP and Anderson Silva may provide the excitement that fans crave, the defeat of one of the UFC’s seemingly unbeatable champions. Therefore, why not extend the experiment to feature other champion vs. champion bouts such as: Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones, Jones vs. Dos Santos, etc.?
The question for the UFC then becomes, why not hold events that pit the best fighters in their respective weight divisions against their counterparts in other divisions? Such events would do record numbers, and might just provide the spark necessary to rejuvenate weight classes that have stalled-out under long-sitting champions.