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The time for GSP-Silva is now
The UFC’s grand plans became obvious midway through the third round of Saturday night’s five-round welterweight title fight at UFC 154.
As interim titleholder Carlos Condit was struggling mightily, valiantly, and ultimately in vain to spoil UFC legend Georges St-Pierre’s comeback from a 1 ½-year layoff due to injury, a small screen popped up within the big screens at the Bell Centre. As the big screens broadcast St-Pierre overcoming Condit’s best moment of the night – a kick to St-Pierre’s head early in the third round that floored the UFC legend – the pop-up screen showed middleweight champ Anderson Silva in the crowd, cheering on St-Pierre.
And for the rest of the fight, as St-Pierre dominated the bloodied Condit, there was Silva, his presence shadowing every move in the electric main event at UFC 154.
Yes, St-Pierre sparkled on Saturday night against Condit. Condit was a warrior, bloodied as if he were in a horror movie, absorbing blow after blow while landing a few of his own. But St-Pierre appeared to be back to what he was before his injury: One of the best two pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The other being Anderson Silva.
And in the end, the shadow of a St-Pierre superfight against Silva in 2013 showed exactly what this UFC 154 title unification fight was: A worthy fight. A fight that pushed St-Pierre to his edge. The toughest fight of St-Pierre’s career, as he said, bloodied and bruised, after the unanimous decision was announced.
And ultimately just one final obstacle to what could be one of the most anticipated fights in the history of the UFC, pitting two legends against each other in an enormous venue like Cowboys Stadium or a soccer stadium in Brazil.
“I got hit a lot on the head,” St-Pierre said, answering reporters’ questions about whether he wants Silva to be his next fight. “I need a break to think about it… I want to make the best choice for myself, for the UFC and for the fans.”
It’s a typically classy answer from St-Pierre. Throughout the lead-up to this fight, St-Pierre spoke about how he should not overlook a dangerous opponent in Condit by focusing on some hypothetical fight. It was a show of respect for Condit that he deferred again on Saturday night.
But, come on. This superfight is no longer hypothetical. There is no other option that St-Pierre would want – or that UFC president Dana White would nudge him toward – except a superfight with Silva. It’d be the UFC version of Red Sox vs. Yankees, Lakers vs. Celtics, Mayweather vs. Pacquiao. The fight that would generate more excitement than any other. It’d be a huge payday for both fighters, and a huge boon to the UFC, which has endured a sometimes-trying 2012 with so many announced fights being scrapped due to injuries.
The only loser in the proposition would be Johny Hendricks. The welterweight floored Martin Kampmann less than a minute into their co-main event fight on Saturday, knocking him out in impressive fashion in a fight that was dubbed as a No. 1 contender fight. But if St-Pierre fights Silva, Hendricks will either be forced to take another fight in the meantime – Nick Diaz, anyone? – or have a long layoff until St-Pierre returns to the welterweight division.
At the post-fight press conference, White didn’t put any pressure on St-Pierre to immediately accept a fight. But he was sure to mention that he had just spoken to Silva after the fight, and Silva told him the next fight he wants is against St-Pierre.
Which sounds like the two are a breath away from signing a contract.
“Georges St-Pierre for my next fight, maybe,” Silva told a group of reporters before UFC 154. “Jon Jones, no. This is not real. But this is not my decision. This is Dana’s decision.”
And if it is Dana’s decision, rest assured he’ll make the right one.
“I need to talk to the boss right here,” St-Pierre said, looking up at White. “I just got hit. I need some vacation before I make a big decision like this.”