The two most impressive performances turned in at UFC 126 were from Jon "Bones" Jones and Anderson "The Spider" Silva. Jones' demolition of previously undefeated Ryan Bader was astonishing. Not because he won, but how he won; he was able to beat Bader at his own game. A two-time state champion high school wrestler and three-time Pac-10 champion, Bader had his takedowns stuffed all night by Bones Jones. Bones kept the Sun Devil on his back in a freakish display of how well-rounded a fighter he truly is.
Anderson Silva was equally impressive against Vitor Belfort in a different manner. He channeled his performance against Forrest Griffen to produce another knockout for the ages. The Spider has the unique ability to end fights with what looks to be routine striking. As annoying as Silva can be outside the cage, he is a human highlight reel inside. ... when he wants to be.
The first thing that came to mind at the conclusion of UFC 126 was how great it would be if the two stars of the card faced off against one another. My pal David St. Martin agreed with me:
Maybe not with Anderson Silva possibly fighting Georges St. Pierre later in 2011, but with Jon Jones' unprecedented ascent in MMA, is this the best matchup this sport can offer? I've never been stoked about the prospect of GSP fighting Silva. It just doesn't make that much sense to me.
Sure, it's a fight between the two best fighters in the world, but I'm not sure how competitive it would even be. I love GSP as much as the next guy, but what Silva was able to do to someone like Vitor Belfort doesn't give me much hope for the much smaller Canadian.
Last night was a revelation to MMA fans, but it also showed me which possible dream fight intrigues me the most. How would the freakish athleticism of Jon Jones stack up with Anderson Silva's technique? What Jones was able to accomplish agasint Ryan Bader was eye opening and many fans - including myself - didn't think he would be able to do it so effortlessly.
Looking at it from the layman's perspective, it's a no-brainer. The UFC wants the best fighters to fight one another? This is it. Two explosive athletes who easily can knock out or submit opponents in the blink of an eye. What makes it an even better idea is that there is a huge contingency of MMA fans out there who WANT to see Silva lose. To humble him, if nothing else. We tasted it with Chael Sonnen. I think the middleweight champion would be humbled, if this fight were to happen.
I remember reading about Chael Sonnen's lack of an ability to finish after he nearly toppled Silva. Brent Brookhouse over at Bloody Elbow addressed it after the fight:
The overall takeaway here should be that at the championship level guys who don't finish many fights generally need to be really damn good defensively and have a style that ensures that they are not making fight ending mistakes. Especially when the transition to championship level means the addition of two more rounds.
None of this is to say there can't be outliers or that guys like Sonnen can't come along and win a title. But, at least for one night, the numbers held up and Chael's inability to finish and tendency to be finished caught up with him.
I'm not an expert by any stretch, but if you are on top of a smaller man, punching him in the face for the better part of five rounds, you should win. Do any of us believe that if Jon Jones were in that position, Silva would have lasted long? Jones caved in Brandon Vera's face. He broke three bones in Brandon Vera's FACE. Yuck. Jones was smashing Matt Hamill with some brutal ground and pound before he was disqualified for not using the CORRECT brutal ground and pound. I don't want to dismiss Anderson Silva's ability to avoid taking punishment on the ground. He has proven his versatility. I just don't think it matters. Too many fists and elbows, too much power. In his last fight, Jones faced off with who I thought to be a superior wrestler and bested him. He is also aware of the success Sonnen had countering Silva's striking with takedowns. He'd be prepared, he'd be dangerous and he'd be what, 12 years younger?
It looks like we are on the road to seeing one of the greatest match-ups in the history of the sport. Georges St. Pierre vs. Anderson Silva would be a real treat for all of us. And while that is the best match-up, the most entertaining match-up maybe the one we will never see. Bones vs The Spider would tear the house down.