Anderson Silva is the greatest middleweight in the history of MMA, having firmly established himself as one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world today.
Georges St. Pierre is the greatest welterweight in the history of MMA, having firmly established himself as one of the pound-for-pound best fighters in the world today.
Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White wants them to fight so we can find out just which one is the best. This isn't about titles -- neither would put their respective belts on the line were the bout to happen -- but legacy. The winner would have a clear case for being the best fighter of all time, bar none.
Both men have fought recently, both having to overcome final obstacles before White could even begin to think about drawing up contracts for a fight between the two. Silva utterly decimated Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153 on Oct. 13 in Brazil while St. Pierre turned in a stellar performance -- save for a close call on a head kick halfway through -- in a decision victory over Carlos Condit at UFC 154 on Nov. 17 in Montreal.
Now that those tests have been passed, game on, right?
Not so fast.
A tug-of-war has already begun regarding what weight the hypothetical super-fight will be contested at. Silva and his camp have said they are willing to move down in weight but would prefer the bout take place at or around 177-pounds, which is splitting the difference between welterweight (170) and middleweight (185).
St. Pierre, in the brief instances he and his camp have discussed the matter, isn't so comfortable with that, at least not by his words.
"Rush" has maintained that a decision to fight Silva would likely mean moving up in weight, possibly even to 185-pounds. His stance has long been that if he were to do that, he would need to think long and hard about it because he would make the move a permanent one. His belief is that moving up and then back down would be so detrimental to his career that it simply wouldn't be worth it.
In that same vein, at the UFC 154 post-fight press conference, he brought up the fact that Silva has previously fought at 168-pounds earlier in his career. He brought this up multiple times, in fact, in various interviews after the press conference concluded. Was he saying he would ask for Silva to go all the way down to 170-pounds? No, but the implication is clear.
St. Pierre trainer Firas Zahabi would later say they believe Silva making the cut to welterweight would be the most fair scenario because that way he wouldn't be able to balloon up to as big as 200-pounds by fight time. The thinking, too, is that if the French-Canadian is giving up both a height and reach advantage, then the Brazilian should be willing to give up the weight advantage.
That sounds logical but can Silva get down to 170-pounds? For a man who looks comfortable fighting at 205-pounds, that seems unlikely and even potentially dangerous but we can't really be sure. Again, the Silva camp has maintained they would like the bout to happen at 177-pounds or as close to the middle between welterweight and middleweight as possible.
As more time moves along and talks get more and more serious, White will have quite the maze to navigate as he likely ends up playing mediator in the tug-of-war over weight. His angle all along has been that so much money will be involved -- this will easily be the biggest fight in UFC history and would likely break a lot of records -- that both men will get past whatever hang ups they have and ultimately climb inside the Octagon to face each other.
If they do, it will be huge. But nearly as fascinating will be the battle over what weight the fight will be contested at.