The greatest of all-time… It’s a subjective accolade, but poll any group of MMA lovers from any era and the vast majority will offer up Georges St Pierre or Anderson Silva as MMA’s theoretical”person to beat.” In late 2016, news of this French-Canadian’s return fueled whispers of UFC president Dana White’s”one that got away” — St Pierre vs Silva — the best versus the cleverest. Regrettably, the odds of this happening now are as slim as they ever were. “Rush” vs.”The Spider” is a fantasy; one of several super fights we will probably never see.
Sadly, it is not the sole one. Here are a few additional MMA superfights we got to see…
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar
Partly as a result of UFC’s monopolistic advertising power and partly due to his best years being a decade ago, Fedor Emelianenko doesn’t always receive the respect he deserves from modern-day MMA fans. For those who watched his epic rampage through PRIDE’s heavyweight division however he was the greatest heavyweight of his era… perhaps the greatest ever.
While Fedor might have been the best fighter in his day, Brock Lesnar was the biggest box office attraction. An instant superstar, ” he polarized an audience who didn’t understand what they desired more; therefore watch him humbled in defeat, or glorified in success.
Physically, Lesnar was an animal. Walking around north of this 265-pound heavyweight limit, the NCAA standout moved with the speed and grace of a man half his size. Whether it was right down to fame or notoriety he had been a magnet to the paying public, headlining what was then the UFC’s largest card above the likes of GSP, in what was just his third tilt together with the advertising.
Following years of deriding that the Russian while he plied his trade for the competition, White declared that signing Stary Oskol’s favorite son was his”obsession.” Accounts of what happened following differ based on who you listen to them from. Fedor was tied up with M-1; based on White, a deal offering $2,000,000 per fight, Pay-Per-View points and an immediate title taken against Brock Lesnar was spurned; M-1 wished to co-promote Fedor’s struggles, also allegedly wanted Zuffa to fund the building of a stadium in Russia. M-1 refuted those claims, and talks broke down.
Fedor’s inventory would fall considerably following three straight losses and Lesnar, while a licence to print money, was exposed by better fighters and abandoned the game. It could have been the biggest-grossing MMA fight of all-time, but as is so frequently the case, politics ultimately ruined it.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tank Abbott
Throwbacks to another age, arguably another sport, Ken Shamrock and Tank Abbott were the poster children of the UFC’s formative years. Even though the event was thought to be a subversive info-mercial to get Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, you need to believe that the cash men were quietly pulling for a Shamrock victory at UFC 1. He was 220 lbs of chiselled muscle, and the only fighter in the mount using documented”free-fight” encounter, Shamrock had the expression of an action hero and the ability to back it up.
A few years after, David”Tank” Abbott hit the scene. Watch MMA live or at a bar even now, and you’ll find no shortage of out-of-shape, beer-swilling loudmouths eager to talk about their view of how they’d mop the floor with all the guys on TV. Abbott was that guy, only he could mop the floor with some of the guys on TV. Fat, cocky and wearing roughly the exact same number of teeth as he’d had karate lessons, Abbott was the manifestation of all that a martial artist wasn’t supposed to be.
There’s a little MMA folklore that says Tank was brought into lose, thus proving the theory that the martial artist would always succeed over the thug. His (admittedly limited) wrestling background was played down and he had been branded a’Pit Fighter’ in promotional stuff. When Tank started breaking heads in a number of the very violent UFC fights of the era, a star was born, to the point that the company set him on a monthly salary; something not replicated since.
There was legitimate bad blood between both parties, together with Shamrock and his”Lion’s Den” after hunting down Abbott backstage after he’d caused trouble. Ken never caught him up though, either at the parking lot or the cage, together with both eventually leaving the company for professions in pro-wrestling. Their surprise early-00′s returns once again sparked hope of a superfight from the other creation, but for reasons unknown it was never supposed to be.
Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones
Before the controversy that shelved him for that which would probably have been his fighting prime, few would argue that Jon Jones was not at the absolute pinnacle of mixed martial arts. A world-class athlete, not just skillful, but an expert in all facets of the match, Jones looked insurmountable. In 2011he finished that which was arguably the greatest season’s work of any battle sports athlete, beating Ryan Bader,”Shogun” Rua,”Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida in the space of just 10 months.
While Jones was painting an image of violence in the light-heavyweight division, Anderson Silva had been creating a masterpiece at middleweight. Nobody had previously cleared such a talent-rich division and seemed so untouchable in doing so. So complete was Silva’s dominance, he’d double moved up a weight class and demolished his opposition. His claim to the title of’best ever’ could be contested by a scant few.
White once mentioned his ability to make a Jones vs. Silva superfight happen as a tool that could define his own legacy as a promoter. Fate, as it is want to do, conspired against him. Silva’s standing plummeted after having a series of reductions and a failed drug test. Jones’ picture was tarnished even farther; while he didn’t falter from the cage, a run of self-inflicted’personal issues’ stripped”Bones” of his dignity, credibility and — most importantly — his own ability to compete.
Silva is beyond his prime and threatening retirement. Jones is focused firmly on regaining the light heavyweight title he never lost in the cage. Issues outside the cage have almost certainly deprived us of one of the best struggles inside.
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