Tomorrow night’s UFC 158 event will answer a lot of questions. First and foremost, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and challenger Nick Diaz will battle to determine the future of the UFC’s 170-pound title. In the night’s co-main events, two more pairs of highly ranked welterweights will square off in an effort to be next in line for a shot at the belt. Elsewhere on the card, recent Ultimate Fighter runners-up Mike Ricci and Colin Fletcher will meet at lightweight in what is likely a win-or-go-home fight for both. Ricci, a Montreal native, will appear in front of a friendly crowd Saturday, which could give him the psychological advantage, but the pressure to perform in one’s hometown is no doubt immense.

Another less important but no less intriguing question will also probably be answered tomorrow evening: Will Anderson Silva ever fight Georges St-Pierre?

Since the ascension of both fighters to the tops of their respective divisions—Silva in 2006 and St-Pierre in 2008—and the relative ease with which they have each defended their belts, there has been a persistent call by many in the MMA community to put the two together in the Octagon. The main problem with this, aside from the fact that a Silva/GSP fight would mean putting not one but two divisions’ title situations on hold, is that the two fighters have always competed in separate divisions. Planning a bout between them, then, would require a mutually agreed-upon weight limit that would still offer a competitive battle.

For this reason, expecting Anderson Silva to move down to 170 pounds, or really any size below his typical 185-pound weigh-in maximum, is out of the question. Sure, Silva began his career in the welterweight division, but he hasn’t fought at that weight in nearly 10 years. Since arriving in the UFC in 2006, the only times he’s even fought outside the middleweight division were when he bumped up to 205 pounds for challenge matches with James Irvin, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar (all of whom he finished in the opening round). At 37 and as the longtime pound-for-pound king of MMA, it would be unreasonable to expect Silva to suffer through what would definitely be an excruciating cut to 170 pounds, so that’s probably out.

The other logical option, therefore, would be for Silva and GSP to fight at middleweight. Really, the only potential “problem” this scenario could present would be St-Pierre defeating Silva for his title (if both fighters are still champions at the time of their hypothetical fight) and therefore placing himself and the UFC in somewhat of an awkward position relative to what would become a two-division reign. St-Pierre would either have to bounce back and forth between welterweight and middleweight, thereby extending the time between title fights in both divisions, or give up the welterweight title entirely, which would be a bizarre and anticlimactic end to his impressive reign at 170. Then again, the UFC could just make the Silva/GSP middlweight fight a non-title affair to avoid such complications in the future, but that’d be like the Green Bay Packers playing the Chicago Bears in the preseason…no one wants to see that.

This second option assumes, however, that both Silva and St-Pierre would still be champions by the time a fight between them would become feasible. If one of them should lose an upcoming fight—GSP to Diaz tomorrow night or Silva to middleweight title challenger Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in July—then a fight between the two would lose a lot of its current appeal. Silva’s future following a hypothetical loss to Weidman would be anyone’s guess, but it probably wouldn’t come as much of a surprise if he retired, really having nothing more to prove in MMA. A GSP loss on Saturday would not likely spell the end of the Canadian superstar’s career, but it would certainly reduce his standing as one of the sport’s greatest fighters and with it the chances of a superfight with Silva. The silver lining there would be that Nick Diaz could, in theory, bump up in weight to face Silva instead—a fight that would get the MMA world talking nearly as much as one between Silva and St-Pierre.

Of course, both fighters losing their titles in their next fights might actually improve the prospects of a Silva/GSP fight, since the title considerations would no longer be a factor. Even without a belt on the line, the fight would, without a doubt, headline whatever show it was on and would definitely be one of the most highly promoted events in MMA history. It could be billed as Anderson Silva’s farewell fight and his “toughest test yet.” While no one wishes Silva or St-Pierre bad luck in their upcoming title defenses, a loss for both would make a fight between them much easier to put together.

This whole discussion might be moot, however, as the new superfight hotness seems to be one between Anderson Silva and light heavyweight champion Jon Jones. This fight raises the same questions as one between Silva and GSP, but the weight issue would likely be sorted out by the fact that Jon Jones probably couldn’t make 185 if he lost a limb. A Silva/Jones fight at light heavyweight, whether for Jones’ belt or not, would be a major attraction for the UFC and, like a fight with GSP, would be a marvelous going-away party for Silva, if the timing was right.

While the UFC’s welterweight title picture will be a little clearer following Saturday’s fights, Georges St-Pierre’s fighting future remains somewhat of a mystery, particularly as it pertains to a match with Anderson Silva. Expect GSP to move to 185 if that fight should materialize, but Silva’s age and Jones’ recent rise to fame might mean he never has to.

Photo: Georges St-Pierre works from the top position (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.