UFC Prez White sold on Silva-St. Pierre
LAS VEGAS -- Sometimes, a fight that never made much sense suddenly starts to make a lot of sense because, really, it's the only fight left that makes any sense at all.
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It does to UFC President Dana White, who a few weeks ago announced there's a solid possibility welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and middleweight champion Anderson Silva will meet inside the Octagon in 2011.
The announcement is significant in that White has long held the opinion that matching up his two most dominant fighters would be difficult, given the difference in their frames.
St. Pierre is a true welterweight and has never fought above 170 pounds. Silva is a tall, long 185-pounder who fought at 205 as recently as August 2009.
But with both champions displaying such dominance in their respective divisions, White says the time to make this fight has just about arrived. Really, it's quickly becoming the only fight involving the two that makes sense.
"What happened is they're both close to cleaning out their division," White told ESPN.com, on his change of heart. "If Anderson beats Vitor Belfort and St. Pierre beats Jake Shields, seriously, what's left for them?
"It's a fun fight to do."
According to White, the fight would be held in Silva's weight class of 185 pounds. He also said he wouldn't consider giving St. Pierre a tune-up middleweight fight beforehand.
Silva (27-4) will be in action Saturday at UFC 126 against Belfort. St. Pierre (21-2) is scheduled to defend his belt against Shields at UFC 130 in April. Both are heavily favored to win.
Both have a reputation of not discussing fights before they're made. Silva in particular always jokes when asked whom he'd like to fight next, sometimes even answering "my clone."
According to his manager, Ed Soares, Silva is the same away from the cameras but Soares admits that St. Pierre is on their radar and fits the exact profile of opponents Silva wishes to fight.
"I'll be honest, Anderson has never looked at me and said, 'I want to fight that guy,'" Soares said. "But he's told me, 'I would fight that guy.' Anderson's goal is to fight the best in the world and be in the biggest fights. I think Georges St. Pierre fits into those categories."
Soares acknowledged holding the fight at a catchweight would make sense, but that's doubtful. One specific advantage of it being a middleweight fight is that, being for a title, it's a guaranteed five-rounder.
I'll be honest, Anderson has never looked at me and said, 'I want to fight that guy. But he's told me, 'I would fight that guy.'” -- Anderson Silva's manager, Ed Soares
If the fight is made, St. Pierre has said he'd vacate the 170-pound title and move to the middleweight division permanently.
Recently, the Canadian superstar additionally told ESPN.com that the process of adding weight could take anywhere between six to nine months, which could push the date of the fight to 2012.
"It could take as long as nine months because you have to put on the weight and then get used to the weight," St. Pierre said. "If the fight is going to happen, I have to make it in the condition where it is fair. I'm much smaller than he is and I'm going to need time to gain weight."
St. Pierre added he'd want to get his weight up to more than 200 pounds before cutting back to 185. Currently, he walks around at 190 as a welterweight.
In boxing, moving up weight classes is a long-standing tradition for any elite fighter. Filipino star Manny Pacquiao has done it successfully the most, claiming world titles in eight divisions.
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It's a risk far less seen in MMA, which makes it even more impressive in the eyes of fans and particularly for White, who lately sounds very excited for a fight he used to say didn't make a ton of sense.
"The fans [understand] that. No doubt about it," said White, on the challenge of moving up in weight. "That's what I love about this fight. I'm all about legacy. That's what matters more than the money. I love it if a guy will go up for a super fight like this. Anderson Silva has already moved up and fought at 205. For 'GSP' to do it, I think it's big for his legacy."
Brett Okamoto covers MMA for ESPN.com. Follow him on Twitter at bokamotoESPN.
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