The greatest of all-time… it is a subjective accolade, but survey some of MMA fans from any age and the vast majority will provide up either Georges St Pierre or Anderson Silva as MMA’s theoretical »man to conquer. » In late 2016, news of this French-Canadian’s return fueled whispers of UFC president Dana White’s »one that got away » — St Pierre vs Silva — the best versus the cleverest. Regrettably, the odds of it occurring now are as slim as they were. « Hurry » vs. »The Spider » is a myth; one of several super fights we’ll probably never see.
Sadly, it is not the sole one. Here are a few other MMA superfights we got to see…
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar
Partly as a result of UFC’s monopolistic marketing power and partly because of his very best years being a decade ago, Fedor Emelianenko doesn’t always receive the respect he deserves from modern-day MMA fans. For those who witnessed his epic poem rampage through PRIDE’s heavyweight division thoughhe was the best heavyweight of his era… perhaps the biggest ever.
While Fedor might have become the best fighter in his day, Brock Lesnar was the largest box office attraction. An immediate superstar, he polarized an audience that did not understand what they wanted more; so watch him humbled in defeat, or glorified in success.
Physically, Lesnar was a creature. Walking around north of the 265-pound heavyweight limit, the NCAA standout transferred with all the speed and elegance of a guy half his size. Whether it was right down to popularity or notoriety he had been a magnet for the paying public, headlining what was then the UFC’s largest card above the likes of GSP, in what was just his third tilt with the promotion.
After years of deriding that the Russian while he plied his trade for the competition, White declared that registering Stary Oskol’s favourite son was his »obsession. » Accounts of what happened next differ depending on who you listen to them from. Fedor was tied up with M-1; based on White, a bargain offering $2,000,000 per fight, Pay-Per-View points and an immediate title shot against Brock Lesnar was spurned; M-1 wanted to co-promote Fedor’s fights, also supposedly wanted Zuffa to fund the building of a stadium in Russia. M-1 refuted those claims, and talks broke down.
Fedor’s stock would fall considerably following three straight losses and Lesnar, while a licence to print money, was subjected by better fighters and abandoned the sport. It might have become the biggest-grossing MMA fight of all time, but as is so often the case, politics finally ruined it.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tank Abbott
Throwbacks into a different age, arguably a different sport, Ken Shamrock and Tank Abbott were the poster children of the UFC’s formative years. Even though the event was thought to be a subversive info-mercial to get Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, you have to feel that the money men were quietly yanking a Shamrock success at UFC 1. He was 220 lbs of chiselled muscle, and the only fighter in the mount with recorded »free-fight » experience, Shamrock had the expression of an action hero and the ability to back this up.
A couple of years after, David »Tank » Abbott hit the spectacle. Watch MMA reside or at a bar even today, and you will find no shortage of out-of-shape, beer-swilling loudmouths eager to share their view of how they would mop the floor with all the guys on TV. Abbott was the man, just he can mop the floor with some of the guys on TV. Fat, cocky and wearing roughly the same number of teeth since he’d had karate course, Abbott was the manifestation of all that a martial artist wasn’t supposed to be.
There’s a little MMA folklore that says Tank was introduced into shed, thus proving the theory that the British artist would always succeed over the thug. His (admittedly limited) wrestling foundation was played down and he was branded a’Pit Fighter’ in promotional material. When Tank began cracking heads in a number of the most visually violent UFC fights of the age, a star was born, to the point that the company put him on a monthly salary; something not replicated since.
There was even legitimate bad blood between the two parties, with Shamrock and also his »Lion’s Den » after hunting down Abbott backstage after he had caused trouble. Ken never caught up with him though, either in the parking lot or even the cage, with both finally leaving the business for professions in pro-wrestling. Their surprise early-00’s returns once again sparked hope of a superfight from another generation, but for reasons unknown it was not supposed to be.
Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones
Before the controversy that shelved him for what could probably have been his fighting prime, few could argue that Jon Jones wasn’t at the absolute pinnacle of mixed martial arts. A world-class athlete, not just adept, but an expert in all aspects of the match, Jones looked insurmountable. In 2011he completed that which was arguably the greatest year’s work of any battle sports athlete, defeating Ryan Bader, »Shogun » Rua, »Rampage » Jackson and Lyoto Machida in the space of just 10 weeks.
Even though Jones was painting a picture of violence at the light-heavyweight branch, Anderson Silva was creating a masterpiece in middleweight. Nobody had cleared such a talent-rich branch and looked really untouchable in doing this. So absolute was Silva’s dominance, he’d twice moved up a weight class and demolished his opposition. His claim to the title of’best ever’ might be contested by a scant few.
White once mentioned his capacity to generate a Jones vs. Silva superfight occur as something that would define his own heritage as a promoter. Fate, as it is want to do, conspired against him. Silva’s standing plummeted following a series of reductions and a failed drug test. Jones’ picture was tarnished even further; while he did not falter from the cage, a run of self-inflicted’personal issues’ stripped »Bones » of his dignity, credibility and — most importantly — his own ability to compete.
Silva is beyond his prime and threatening retirement. Jones is focused firmly on regaining the light heavyweight title he never lost in the cage. Problems beyond the cage have almost certainly deprived us of one of the greatest battles within it.
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