For several years, fans have been left to wonder if a showdown between longtime champions Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre would ever take place. Reporters would always ask the fighters, who would respond with noncommittal answers. The reporters would also ask UFC President Dana White, and the answer was almost always, “We’ll see what happens with this next fight,” or, “Maybe the end of the year, I don’t know.” Then, the inevitable happened. One fighter lost his title and the other relinquished his title.

Silva lost his middleweight strap to Chris Weidman in July 2013, and failed to regain the championship in the rematch in December. St-Pierre secured a close and controversial split decision over Johny Hendricks in November to retain his welterweight title, but he went on to announce that he was giving up the belt and taking an indefinite hiatus barely a month later. Superfight talk seemed to disappear overnight.

The idea of a superfight has been one that seems to come up every time there are two dominant champions and big draws in neighboring weight classes. Although Silva-GSP is without a doubt the one which has garnered the most discussion and debate for the longest period of time, it was not the only option on the table. Silva against Jon Jones was seen as a viable, and more likely, superfight, thanks in no small part to the fact that Silva has fought at 205 pounds on more than one occasion.

There has even been talk about Jones eventually moving up to heavyweight to challenge Cain Velasquez. Then again, people have been saying for years now that Jones will have to move up to heavyweight whether he wants to or not, but he doesn’t seem to be slowing down any or have any shortage of contenders at light heavyweight.

The most recent superfight being discussed is one pitting Jose Aldo against Anthony Pettis. All parties concerned appear to be in agreement on the idea, so we’re left waiting for the official announcement and a date for the card. Of course, even a superfight between two reigning champions is bound to have criticism and doubt surrounding it, which is understandable. Pettis won the lightweight title in his most recent outing. He has yet to defend the belt and cement his dominance of the division. Aldo, on the other hand, despite being the most dominant champion the UFC has right now, is at best a mediocre pay-per-view draw and relies heavily on a big name co-main event or serves as the co-main event himself if another title is on the card.

Of course, Aldo’s bout with former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar was promoted as a superfight, but it likely won’t be remembered that way. Edgar wasn’t exactly considered a dominant champion either, despite dethroning B.J. Penn and defending against Gray Maynard. The propensity of all of his title fights to go the distance, save for one, made him difficult for many fans to rally behind, despite his active and fast-paced style of fighting.

Therefore, the only actual superfight to take place in the Zuffa LLC era of the UFC was St-Pierre’s clash with Penn at UFC 94 in 2009. Penn was the current lightweight champion and former welterweight champion, and he moved back up to 170 pounds (without relinquishing his title) to rematch GSP for the title. As if having two current champions fight each other wasn’t enough, their first encounter was a controversial split decision, so there was already a built-in storyline to help market the fight. The event was considered a huge pay-per-view success. This was also a case where a fighter was going back to a previous weight class, not entering a weight class unknown to them, like most other potential superfight match-ups.

With so much mixed success—or lack of fights to measure success—the whole concept of a superfight seems more and more like a pipe dream, or at the very least something which should be allowed to occur organically instead of being forced along for the sake of having one. This hasn’t stopped Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, from floating the idea around.

The timeline on Silva’s return seems pretty fluid, whereas St-Pierre hasn’t made a statement about who, when or where with regard to making a return to fighting. Neither of them hold a title, but for some reason the idea doesn’t seem that far-fetched. Without a title to defend, there is no outcry from other fighters or an obligation remain active in a particular division, nor is there a reason to have the bout take place at a specific weight. Furthermore, GSP is in the perfect situation to increase his mass in order to get to a place where he would feel comfortable facing his larger Brazilian counterpart.

It’s likely Silva, despite coming off back-to-back losses, would be the favorite in this match-up. Unless a catchweight of 178 or 180 pounds was agreed upon, it’s unlikely St-Pierre would have an advantage in any area of the fight. Some might say his wrestling would be an advantage, but Silva is much larger than anyone GSP has had to fight inside the Octagon, and Silva has faced much larger and better wrestlers than St-Pierre.

Regardless of who the favorite is, it is almost guaranteed to not be a boring affair by any measure of the word. St-Pierre is known for having fights go the distance with very few fireworks to speak of, and Silva has had his moments where he failed to finish or engage an opponent. But if these two were to finally meet, their styles would mix well enough to ensure action for the entire duration of the bout, be it one minute or a full five rounds.

Unfortunately, like all other attempts at making this match, there are too many variables and unknowns for it to happen. Aldo against Pettis is likely to happen because it almost happened before, with a date booked and everything. This one relies on Silva returning to action 100 percent healthy, St-Pierre wanting to return to fight at all (let alone at a weight above 170 pounds), and GSP and Dana White squashing the media war they’ve been having about drug testing.

Nonetheless, if St-Pierre decides to return and if Silva gives up his dream of fighting Roy Jones Jr. for a little bit longer, then it may be possible. If GSP is willing to move up in weight and Silva is able to come back healthy enough to not only fight but at the very least continue to cut to 185 pounds, then there’s a glimmer of hope.

If both fighters can agree to face each other once and for all, then no one will care if there is a belt on the line or not. No one will care that GSP was critical about drug testing, no one will care that Silva was knocked out and had his leg broken by Weidman, and no one will care how this fight will affect their legacies. That’s because this fight will be their legacy, and if it doesn’t happen, then there will be an asterisk next to their name for history to judge upon. And that’s the bottom line.

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