GSP vs. Silva Would Have Been Exciting Matchup between UFC Legends
All the ingredients were there for a super fight. Two great champions at the peak of their powers. Two men close enough in weight to make it feasible. But the UFC never seriously pursued a fight between Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva.
Over the past ten years, there have been many fights between two fighters interested in proving themselves against champions in other weight divisions. Amanda Nunes, Henry Cejudo, Alexander Volkanovski, Daniel Cormier, Israel Adesanya, and Conor McGregor have all pursued multiple belts. Some were successful, some weren’t.
But in the case of Silva and GSP, both men were so dominant on top that some observers felt neither man had enough of a challenge left in their respective divisions. When St. Pierre returned from retirement and won the middleweight bout, Silva’s division, it left even more of a case of ‘what if?’ While MMA latest updates show both men are retired and will likely never fight, there is a real case that this fight should have happened.
Two-Division Champions are Rare in UFC
Scouring the UFC’s history books for people who won championships in multiple weight divisions would be a short list. Top MMA news sites have shown that eight competitors have accomplished the feat. Only four fighters – Cejudo, Cormier, McGregor, and Nunes- held the belts simultaneously.
McGregor never defended either belt and would instead vacate both championships to pursue a boxing exhibition against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Cejudo, Cormier, and Nunes successfully defended each belt at least once. St-Pierre winning the middleweight championship in 2017 was a shocker.
After four years in retirement, St-Pierre came in to fight Michael Bisping. St-Pierre won via submission but vacated the belt shortly after due to health issues.
|UFC Multiple Division Champions
|*Held both belts simultaneously **Current heavyweight champion
St-Pierre was Physical Specimen
St-Pierre earned a black belt at the age of 12. What many MMA news websites show is that St-Pierre gravitated toward karate as a way to get even with childhood bullies. St-Pierre’s acumen for fighting lent itself well to competing in the octagon.
St-Pierre reached the UFC after five fights on the regional scene, and his eighth fight in the organization was a welterweight championship fight with Matt Hughes. While Hughes won via first-round armbar at UFC 50 in October 2004, St-Pierre wouldn’t be discouraged. St-Pierre would get another championship opportunity at UFC 65 and won the title from Hughes with a TKO victory.
However, another upset loss to Matt Serra at UFC 69 slowed GSP’s ascent. The loss to Serra would be the last one in his career, as GSP would win his next 14 fights.
Silva Grew Into His Dominance
Silva, 48, now has an ugly record in MMA. But that’s only because he held on way past his prime. Silva finished his career in October 2020 by taking a knockout loss to Uriah Hall to drop his career record to 34-11. But at his peak, few fighters were more feared.
Silva was a vicious striker who racked up 23 knockouts during his career. He didn’t make it to the UFC until 22 fights into his MMA career. Silva debuted with a knockout win in a middleweight title eliminator. He won the title in his second fight, knocking out Rich Franklin at UFC 64 in October 2006.
Silva then began a long string of title defenses that didn’t end until a surprise knockout loss to Chris Weidman in July 2013. In a rematch in December of that year, Weidman broke Silva’s leg by checking a leg kick. Silva’s career quickly cratered after that.
Silva had his win at UFC 183 overturned to a no-contest after a negative drug test. His only other UFC win before retiring was a decision win over Derek Brunson at UFC 208 in February 2017.
Talks of Silva-GSP Fight
GSP insists that all the talk of a super fight between him and Silva was mainly an invention of the media and fans. After his career, GSP said that he was never offered the fight. If the fight had been arranged, St-Pierre said he would have preferred it to be a catchweight bout.
St-Pierre also would have been insistent on heavy drug testing. The UFC didn’t start with a heavy drug testing program until USADA got involved in 2015. St-Pierre never failed a drug test during his combat sports career. Silva can’t say the same thing.
Silva was pulled as one of the coaches on The Ultimate Fighter because of a failed drug test. He would later test positive for steroids in 2015.
GSP Would Have Presented Silva with Problems
GSP’s edge in a potential fight between the pair would have been on the ground. Silva showed many times throughout his career that he had a hard time with strong wrestlers. Chael Sonnen nearly pulled a big upset over Silva by wrestling him and utilizing ground and pound. Wediman also found success on the ground with Silva.
Few in UFC history have been better octagon wrestlers than GSP. While Silva would have had a decided edge on the feet, GSP would have been too savvy to push the fight in that direction. This would have been a competitive contest that either man could have won. While Silva was certainly capable of winning, this seems like a matchup where GSP would have been able to flex his muscles on the mat.
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