Whenever you hear the term “superfight,” what fighter names immediately come to mind?

If you said Anderson Silva, Jon Jones and Georges St-Pierre, your answer is no different than that of most MMA fans.

It’s not a coincidence that the three most dominant champions in the sport are the first fighters talked about. For a major bout to be called a true superfight, it needs to feature two champions that have all but cleaned out their divisions, and Silva, Jones and St-Pierre are the fighters closest to doing just that.

Silva has defeated every single fighter that the UFC has put in front of him, and outside of an underappreciated threat in undefeated Chris Weidman, he’s taken out the best of the best in the middleweight division.

The same can be said for light heavyweight kingpin Jones, who is currently riding a winning streak over a long list of former champions at 205. “Bones” has already taken out Rashad Evans, Lyoto Machida and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua among others, and if he can shut down Chael Sonnen next month at UFC 159, he’ll have already beaten every major name worthy of title consideration at light heavyweight. A fighter like Alexander Gustafsson could definitely earn a title shot by that point, but “The Mauler” is still relatively unknown, which could end up hurting pay-per-view buys.

Of course, it doesn’t always take a challenger with a big name to get decent PPV numbers. St-Pierre has been proving that for a few years now, becoming the company’s most consistent PPV draw, earning good numbers with relatively unknown opponents like Dan Hardy and Jake Shields. GSP is likely going to have to carry another PPV event in the near future, since current No. 1 contender Johny Hendricks is far from a well-known fighter, but if St-Pierre is able to take out Hendricks, he will have all but completely cleaned out his division. After that, the door will be open for St-Pierre to take a superfight, and despite that all signs pointing to an eventual clash with Silva, current lightweight champion Benson Henderson recently threw his name into the mix of potential superfight opponents for GSP.

You have to respect Henderson for going after one of the best fighters in the world, but to be perfectly honest, “Smooth” is nowhere near qualified for a superfight at this point in his career. He has only defended his UFC lightweight title twice since he took the belt from Frankie Edgar last February. In comparison, Silva has defended his belt 10 times, with GSP coming in second with eight straight title defenses, and Jones and featherweight champ Jose Aldo tied for third with four apiece.

The other thing that separates Henderson from his fellow champions is his lack of dominant performances since he won the belt. “Smooth” barely snuck past Edgar in a rematch back in August of last year, and while he impressed with his win over Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5, it wasn’t exactly a memorable performance. Henderson did enough to dominate that fight, but Diaz’s toughness and ability to stay out of trouble ended up costing Henderson any sort of stoppage win.

That’s not to say you have to finish every time you step into the cage. After all, GSP is considered the best welterweight of all time and hasn’t finished anyone since 2009. But Henderson needs a few highlight-reel moments before he can be placed among the Silvas and GSPs of the world.

Also killing Henderson’s superfight is that he hasn’t really come close to wiping out the top contenders in his own division. When you look at the UFC’s lightweight rankings, “Smooth” hasn’t defeated any of the top three contenders in the division, with Gilbert Melendez and Gray Maynard looking for a shot at the belt and Anthony Pettis sitting at No. 3 despite a win over the champ. In short, Henderson has some work to do if he wants a shot at St-Pierre anytime soon.

Realistically, Henderson’s best shot at a superfight doesn’t come in the form of St-Pierre, but at whomever the champion is at featherweight later this year. Pettis is making the move down to 145 to try to capture Aldo’s belt, and no matter who wins that fight, Henderson should appear firmly on their radar.

For Aldo, it would represent a chance to prove he belongs in the discussion for best fighter in the world along with Silva, Jones and GSP. The featherweight champion’s resume is on par with the other top fighters in the sport, but he hasn’t quite gotten opponents with the same recognition as his heavier counterparts. It’s a problem that could be fixed with a champion vs. champion bout at some point.

The UFC did its best to make Aldo’s most recent title defense against Frankie Edgar seem like a superfight—which was a brilliant idea in theory, considering Edgar’s recent run atop the lightweight division. But without a UFC belt around “The Answer’s” waist, it just didn’t quite have a superfight feel to it.

If Pettis is the one to emerge victorious this August, the odds of Henderson getting a superfight will substantially increase. The history between “Smooth” and “Showtime” comes down to their fight at WEC 53, a lightweight title tilt that happened to be the final bout in WEC history. After four close rounds and with the belt hanging in the balance, Pettis unleashed his now YouTube-famous “Showtime Kick” off the cage, catching Henderson flush in the face and stealing the round and the fight.

A rematch between Henderson and Pettis with both men holding gold would be a dream scenario for the UFC (imagine how many commercials with the “Showtime Kick” it could turn out), but even with a Pettis win, both guys need to do a little more work before a superfight is in order.

And no matter who wins between Aldo and Pettis, there’s still work to be done at featherweight as well. Top contenders Ricardo Lamas and Chan-Sung Jung are already set to fight and most likely determine the next contender for the belt, and former title challengers Chad Mendes and Edgar are slowly working their way towards contention again.

The fact is, most UFC champions aren’t close to cleaning out the division they currently reign over. Until they do, they shouldn’t be considered for a superfight. In order for a fight to truly have a superfight feel, it should be a bout between two fighters that are both practically unbeatable, much like the fight between St-Pierre and B.J. Penn at UFC 94.

Both GSP and Penn were at the very top of their respective divisions, and it made everything from the pre-fight commercials to the post-fight press conference seem that much more important compared to a regular title bout. The UFC took the time to establish both fighters as two of the very best in the world, and both men had the resume to support that.

A fight between Silva and St-Pierre or Silva and Jones carries that same prestige, because those three fighters have proven to be far superior to everyone else they have fought recently. The UFC could throw a champion vs. champion fight once a year, bill it as a superfight and likely walk away with a pretty sizable pay-per-view number and a ton of money. However, the Zuffa brass is smart, and they realize going that route is going to make an actual superfight feel far less special when it actually happens.

Simply put, superfights are rare and should remain that way. If we keep calling every major fight a superfight, eventually the term is going to become meaningless.

Photo: Jose Aldo (R) battles Frankie Edgar (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)