The greatest of all-time… It’s a subjective accolade, but poll some of MMA lovers from any age and the huge majority will offer up Georges St Pierre or Anderson Silva as MMA’s theoretical”person to beat.” In late 2016, news of the French-Canadian’s return fueled whispers of UFC president Dana White’s”one that got away” — St Pierre vs Silva — the very best versus the cleverest. Sadly, the odds of this happening now are as slim as they were. “Rush” vs.”The Spider” is a fantasy; one of many super fights we will likely never see.
Regrettably, it’s not the sole one. Below are some other MMA superfights we got to see…
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Brock Lesnar
Partly due to the UFC’s monopolistic marketing power and partially because of his very best years being a decade past, Fedor Emelianenko doesn’t always get the respect he deserves from modern-day MMA fans. For people who witnessed his epic rampage through PRIDE’s heavyweight division thoughhe was the best heavyweight of his era… possibly the biggest ever.
While Fedor could have been the best fighter in his day, Brock Lesnar was easily the largest box office attraction. An immediate superstar, he polarized an audience who did not understand what they desired more; therefore watch him humbled in defeat, or glorified in success.
Physically, Lesnar was a creature. Walking round north of this 265-pound heavyweight limit, the NCAA standout transferred with all the speed and elegance of a guy half his size. Whether it was down to fame or notoriety he had been a magnet to the paying public, headlining what was afterward the UFC’s biggest card over the likes of GSP, in what was his third tilt together with the promotion.
Following years of deriding that the Russian while he plied his trade for the competition, White announced that signing Stary Oskol’s favorite son was his”obsession.” Accounts of what happened following differ depending on who you hear them from. Fedor was tied up with M-1; based on White, a bargain offering $2,000,000 per struggle, Pay-Per-View points along with an immediate title taken against Brock Lesnar was spurned; M-1 wanted to co-promote Fedor’s fights, and allegedly wanted Zuffa to fund the building of a stadium in Russia. M-1 refuted these claims, and talks broke down.
Fedor’s stock would fall considerably following three straight losses and Lesnar, while still a licence to print money, was exposed by greater fighters and left the game. It might have been the biggest-grossing MMA struggle of all-time, but as is so often the case, politics finally ruined it.
Ken Shamrock vs. Tank Abbott
Throwbacks into another age, arguably a different game, Ken Shamrock and Tank Abbott were the poster children of this UFC’s formative years. While the event was intended as a subversive info-mercial for Gracie Jiu-Jitsu, you have to believe that the cash men were quietly pulling for a Shamrock victory at UFC 1. He was 220 pounds of chiselled muscle, and the only fighter in the mount using documented”free-fight” experience, Shamrock had the expression of an action hero and the ability to back this up.
A couple of years later, David”Tank” Abbott hit the scene. Watch MMA live or in a bar even today, and you’ll find no lack of out-of-shape, beer-swilling loudmouths eager to talk about their opinion of how they would mop the floor with all the men on TV. Abbott was that man, just he could mop the floor with some of the men on TV. Fat, cocky and sporting about the same amount of teeth since he’d had karate course, Abbott was the manifestation of everything that a martial artist was not supposed to be.
There’s a little MMA folklore that states Tank was introduced into lose, thus proving the theory that the martial artist would always triumph over the thug. His (admittedly limited) wrestling background was played down and he had been branded a’Pit Fighter’ in promotional stuff. When Tank began cracking heads in a number of the very abusive UFC struggles of the era, a star was born, to the stage that the company put him on a monthly salary; something not repeated since.
There was legitimate bad blood between the two parties, together with Shamrock and his”Lion’s Den” once hunting down Abbott backstage after he had caused trouble. Ken never caught him up either at the parking lot or the cage, with both finally leaving the business for professions in pro-wrestling. Their surprise early-00’s returns once again sparked hope of a superfight from another generation, but for reasons unknown it was not meant to be.
Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones
Before the controversy that shelved him for what would likely happen to be his fighting prime, few could argue that Jon Jones wasn’t at the absolute pinnacle of mixed martial arts. A world-class athlete, not just skillful, but an expert in all aspects of the game, Jones looked insurmountable. In 2011, he finished what was arguably the greatest year’s work of any battle sports athlete, defeating Ryan Bader,”Shogun” Rua,”Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida in the space of just 10 weeks.
While Jones was painting an image of violence at the light-heavyweight division, Anderson Silva had been creating a masterpiece at middleweight. Nobody had cleared out such a talent-rich branch and looked really untouchable in doing so. So absolute was Silva’s dominance, he’d twice moved up a weight class and demolished his resistance. His claim to the title of’best ever’ might be contested by a scant couple.
White once mentioned his ability to make a Jones vs. Silva superfight occur 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 following a series of losses and a failed drug test. Jones’ image was tarnished even farther; while he didn’t falter from the cage, a run of self-inflicted’personal difficulties’ stripped”Bones” of his dignity, credibility and — most importantly — his ability to compete.
Silva is beyond his prime and threatening retirement. Jones is concentrated firmly on regaining the light heavyweight title he never lost in the cage. Problems outside the cage have almost certainly deprived us of one of the greatest battles within it.
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