With his tenth title defense completed at UFC 148 last night (July 7, 2012) in Las Vegas, Nevada, Anderson Silva laid the heaviest blow of the night on fans at the post-fight press conference in stating that he wasn't interested in fighting Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones.
For fans of this epic superfight -- which yours truly predicted would be the "it" bout of the sport back in Aug. 2011 -- it got even worse when Jones addressed the prospect via Twitter.
"I guess Anderson said he had no interest in fighting me at tonight's press conference," tweeted Jones. "I feel the same way about him. Nothing but respect."
Talk about a letdown.
That's because they're so perfectly geared toward one another, in terms of styles and career trajectories.
Silva, 37, has cleaned out the middleweight division and lost a total of six rounds on judges' scorecards in ten defenses. He's made a career out of decimating and dominating world-class opponents. His magic is such that the mere prospect of him being in a bad position is news itself, something a foe can hang their hat on as evidence they achieved a rarified air by putting Silva on the defensive, however briefly.
And Jones is essentially the young version of Silva.
The 205-pound boss, in a mere year, has blown through his division, dominating the best of the weight class in such shocking fashion as he continues to improve upon an already-dominant skill set. It already seems a mismatch to contemplate Jones against anyone in the division -- then consider that he's a couple years away from his prime.
And how much sense does it make to see Silva mow down a few more 185-pound challengers? Not much, outside of the chance to see a great artist perform a few more choice recitals, and maybe a highlight reel or two for fans to enjoy.
In Jones, he faces a daunting physical prospect; in Silva, Jones faces an eminently resolute, all-time great, someone who could stand and bang with him, and force Jones, who turns 25 this month, to adjust. It's not hard to envision the great Silva being taken down by Jones, whose wrestling is top-notch.
But Anderson's durability, composure and ability to adjust make him a five-round assignment - he and Jones would surely bring out the best in each other. It's also the logical fight -- should Jones linger at 205-pounds, the calls for him to move up to heavyweight will surely come, but with Silva on his way out the door, a passing-of-the-torch style bout would be a great way to end his career. Because if he were able to deny it to a Hall of Fame lock like Jones, bigger and much younger, it would be one hell of a way to end his career.
Every man has his price, and the UFC needs to start working toward meeting both of them, especially Silva, who seems the more reluctant of the two. It's definitely in the UFC's interest to get Jones and Silva together inside the Octagon in the near future, because seeing them fight anyone else only reminds us of how much we'd love to see them challenge one another.
Jason Probst can be reached at email@example.com or twitter.com/jasonprobst.