For some reason, I’m reminded of a line from one of my all-time favourite Clint Eastwood flicks, “Unforgiven”. Clint is facing off with a lawman played by Gene Hackman, who is pleading for his life. “I didn’t deserve this,” the sherrif whines. “I just wanted to build a house.”
With his trademark scowl firmly in place, Eastwood answers back: “Son, deserve ain’t got nothing to do with it.”
For some reason, thinking about last night’s main event at UFC 154 reminds me of that scene. Oh, and spoiler alert…I guess. Sorry about that.
All the talk, rumours, and hype coming into UFC 154 centered on two men. One of them was fighting in the main event, making his long-awaited return after 18 months on the shelf. One of them was the most popular MMA fighter of his generation, a national hero making his big comeback in his hometown.
The other was Anderson Silva.
I honestly felt bad for Carlos Condit, the man who shared both welterweight gold and the main event cage with GSP, yet felt like something of an afterthought come fight time. Oh sure, there were plenty of folks who thought he could pull an upset, but this is GSP we’re talking about. There’s always a chance (however slim) that someone pulls off the monumental upset.
But probably not. And as a result, fans, media, and the UFC itself were all looking past this fight, and ahead to the epic GSP vs. Anderson Silva clash that was (probably) coming. We had Dana White openly speculating about what venue he’d do MMA’s biggest fight in. We had Anderson Silva sitting ringside – and just in case anyone at home was in danger of forgetting that fact, we had a picture-in-picture shot on him watching for most of the fight.
Unfortunately, the actual St. Pierre/Condit clash was a mixed bag for GSP. Don’t get me wrong here: GSP is back. Any questions about his surgically repaired knee, or his long layoff, were answered decisively. He’s still got it. And Condit also gave him one of his most exciting fights in years, undoubtedly raising his stock among the “just bleed!” crowd.
But going to war with Carlos Condit doesn’t bode well for one’s chances against Anderson freakin’ Silva. That’s what many fans seem to believe, anyways.
There’s also the fact that GSP continues to put distance between himself and “The Spider”. All week long, when everyone with a tape recorder was asking St. Pierre about Anderson, GSP stuck to his line about focusing only on Condit, ever the consumate pro.
Then in the post-fight interview, with Joe Rogan fired up and Anderson Silva sitting only feet away and all the MMA world holding their breath, GSP…wavered. He’d have to think about it, talk it over with his entourage first. Are we really supposed to believe he’s never had this conversation with any of them before?
My thinking is that this is just a business tactic on the part of GSP. He knows how huge a fight this could potentially be – easily the biggest in MMA history. This could all be a tactic to gain leverage as far as what weight the fight is fought at, not to mention purse. He could also be as honest as he seems when he appears to be wary of Anderson Silva. This is Anderson Silva, after all.
But the notion that GSP has something to lose in this fight is frankly ridiculous. He’d be the smaller guy, coming up in weight to face the top fighter in al of MMA. Say he loses. Say he loses badly. Would that really be different than every other one of Anderson’s opponents? Except that GSP is the smaller man, meaning he has even more of an out.
This fight is all upside for GSP – not to mention Anderson Silva, as well as the UFC. For GSP, it’s a massive fight where he has nothing to lose and everything to gain. If he wins, he’s the greatest of all time, easily, and it’s not even close. Lose, and he’s still the welterweight champion. For Anderson, it’s easily the most lucrative fight he could take right now, and a very winnable one against a smaller man. And the UFC, starving for “big” fights, is likely falling all over itself to make this happen.
And the notion that GSP doesn’t “deserve” Anderson Silva because he had a scary moment against Carlos Condit is ridiculous. If any other fighter came off an 18 month layoff and dominated a guy as tough as Carlos Condit, we’d be praising him to the high heavens. GSP himself admitted that ring rust played a big factor in this fight and really held him back.
If that was the “ring rust” version of GSP, than I have zero fears about the version we’ll see in his next fight.
And that next fight must be against Anderson Silva. For years, we’ve danced around this fight, toyed with the idea of making it, come damn close and then watched it fall through. This fight can be made now, and there’s frankly not a damn good reason why it shouldn’t be. The sport of MMA owes it to itself to have the two greatest fighters of their geenration finally meet. It’s the sort of epic clash this sport was made to feature.
And after a rough 2012, it’s frankly what MMA fans, well, deserve.