Even stranger than the idea of three unbelievably dominant UFC champions competing at the same point in history is the idea that each champion would only need to move up or down one single weight class to fight one of the only three people in the promotion who wins as much as he does.
Just like there aren’t any welterweights who seem to have what it takes to defeat long-time champion Georges St. Pierre, there are no current middleweights who can beat the legendary Anderson Silva and there sure as hell aren’t any light heavyweights who can overcome 205 lb. king Jon Jones.
But in the event of a catch-weight fight, Georges could fight Silva and Silva could fight Jones. The massive win streaks of each champion has convinced us all that unless these super-fights happen, these three fighters will happily retire with the same perfect record of title defenses they have now. And that just can’t happen. At least not until the UFC goes to the greatest length possible to make sure it doesn’t, that is.
Since the only legitimate threat to these champions’ records is just one weight class away, it’s been established that we’ll never know just how unstoppable these fighters are until they each accept to partake in the aforementioned super-fights. We can’t let them have the right to brag about having utterly impenetrable abilities if the most formidable test of their skills is a mere 10 pounds away.
Yet aside from the frustration it conveys, this situation is particularly interesting because it has subconsciously illustrated the idea that the greatness of an especially outstanding UFC champion simply cannot be accepted if there is another UFC champion with just as many wins as him competing at the same time with just one weight class separating them.
Though the UFC has only been around for roughly twenty years, we’ve never seen three borderline-flawless champions simultaneously cleaning out their divisions. Every incredible champion in UFC history hasn’t had to worry about another incredible champion in the next weight class up or down. Aside from Jones, Silva and GSP, the three most dominant title holders in UFC history are former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz and former welterweight champion Matt Hughes, both of whom defended their belts five consecutive times. At the time of Hughes’ and Ortiz’s reigns, no other UFC champions were racking up win streaks like they were.
The optimists believe that we should celebrate the wondrous coincidence that the three greatest mixed martial artists in history are all competing at the same time period. But what we should really embrace is the precedent the reaction to the GSP/Silva/Jones situation is setting. Every fighter looking to win a UFC championship and keep it for as long as he possibly can is now realizing that if this dream should indeed come true, he’d better hope that there isn’t another unbelievably talented champion just one weight class away enjoying a long reign of supremacy at the exact same time. Because then he’ll have to deal with the overwhelming pressure to end the dispute over which champion would best the other in a super-fight, pressure that will not subside until the super-fight actually happens.
The collective reaction to the simultaneous reigns of GSP, Silva and Jones has established that a champion’s greatness can only be validated if there isn’t another champion in a bordering weight class displaying a similar level of greatness at the same time. Once two champions only one weight class away from each other rack up a startling amount of title defenses between them, the task of completely cleaning out a division no longer becomes the most sufficient accomplishment each fighter could strive for. Ignoring the super-fight would leave a huge stone unturned and give the impression that this champion is purposely avoiding the only real chance he has of being bested inside the octagon. If any of these three athletes were to not take the super-fights available to them by the end of their careers, the crushing wave of curiosity as to how each fight would turn out will surely spoil any chance they have of being completely at peace and satisfied with their success in the UFC.
So if this dilemma were to arise again in the not-so-distant future, expect the rival champions to end the suspicion early on by having a super-fight the moment it becomes established that fans are bored of watching them both clean out their divisions. They will learn from the negative feedback GSP, Silva and Jones get for supposedly ducking each other and understand that even if they come up short, at least they can say that they were truly tested by every challenge available. Unfortunately, it seems that the current welterweight, middleweight and light heavyweight champions won’t understand how crucial these super-fights are to the glory of their legacies until it’s too late. But that’s just because this is a first for the UFC. If the talent keeps evolving in the coming years, we’ll see more dominant champions in bordering divisions and make no mistake about it, they will accept that the event of a super-fight is inevitable. Thanks to the era of St. Pierre, Silva and Jones, they now know the new standards they must live up to in this unbearably pressure-filled situation to achieve their underlying dream of being remembered as the best in the world.