• UFC 126

Jones v Bader bout provides clue to Silva v GSP winner

Chris Park, mmatorch.com
February 8, 2011
Anderson Silva is so unpredictable that even the best strikers on the planet cannot predict what is coming © Getty Images

The much hyped potential super-fight between welterweight king Georges St-Pierre and his middleweight counterpart Anderson Silva took a quantum leap towards fruition on Saturday at UFC 126 in Las Vegas.

UFC president Dana White had gone on record saying that if Silva was able to defeat the dangerous Vitor Belfort then all that stands in the way of this mega-fight is St-Pierre's next opponent in former Strikeforce champ Jake Shields.

St-Pierre will aim to successfully defend his strap once more when he and Shields clash at UFC 129 knowing that a showdown with Silva, to decide once and for all who is the pound-for-pound king, is at stake.

However, despite the clash looking an increasing reality, the events that unfolded at the Mandalay Bay Events Centre do leave one or two question marks over the bout. The most pressing of all: How will St-Pierre cope with Silva's size?

When the Ultimate Fighting Championship was first founded, it attracted competitors from all walks of life. One man who defines those early days is legendary Hall of Famer Royce Gracie. Standing around six feet tall, Gracie was able to use his Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which at the time felt like a secret, to defeat allcomers as he won the first two tournaments. Gracie proved the point that when you possess such a high level of skill then physical size becomes a minor hurdle that, quite simply, doesn't matter.

However, when two men possessing the immense skill of both St-Pierre and Silva share the same Octagon, the physical aspect of their competition suddenly becomes a much more relevant factor.

Jon Jones looked like he was in a different weight class to Ryan Bader © Getty Images

A clear example was seen during in the light heavy-weight division at UFC 126, as Jon Jones completely dominated fellow rising star Ryan Bader, making the much-hyped wrestler look average, at best. With a significant height and reach advantage, Jones stuffed Bader's trademark double-leg as if he was brushing aside an over-zealous dog, providing a prime example that immense skill - coupled with size - is virtually impossible to compete against.

Should Silva and St-Pierre finally do battle it is looking increasingly likely that it will be scheduled for Silva's 185lb title rather than at a catchweight in the spirit of the occasion. If the bout is indeed scheduled at middleweight, then the balance of favour will tip significantly towards Silva in what would be a career defining moment for whoever is victorious.

Silva came through what was said to be the most dangerous challenge - at least as far as striking is concerned - of his UFC reign, as he knocked out Belfort with a front kick to the face in Las Vegas. The kick landed flush and with such accuracy that it would be fair to claim that no opponent would have seen it coming, and would therefore have crumbled in the same fashion that Belfort did. While St-Pierre has been thoroughly dominant during his title reign, Silva is in a different league to any other opponent he has ever faced.

In all likelihood, Silva's size will enable him to turn a superfight with St-Pierre into a stand-up. GSP was able to comfortably nullify the striking threats of Dan Hardy, BJ Penn and Thiago Alves, along with out-striking Josh Koscheck in his last outing; Silva, however, will pose a completely different threat. Would that have been St-Pierre's chin on the end of Silva's toe instead of Belfort, then in all likelihood "Rush" would also have been left with flashbacks to his last KO at the hands of Matt Serra.

St-Pierre is one of the greatest fighters to pull on a pair of mitts and may well go down as the most dominant welterweight of all time; he has, however, been hurt in the past, and when tackling an opponent like Silva he is always just one kick to the face from a knockout defeat.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.