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Silva, St-Pierre, Jones, and The Pipe Dream in MMA

A pipe dream is a desire or idea that is either unlikely or nearly impossible. Many MMA fans that grew up watching professional wrestling became well-acquainted with this idea during the legendary “Monday Night Wars” as they were left to wonder what would happen if WWF ever faced-off with WCW. Years later, that very idea remains prevalent when looking at the very nature of legitimate combat sports.

While the pipe dream has always been a reality, it would seem that it now, more than ever, plays a central role in fight sport. The world of boxing has the elusive Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao match, the prospect of which has had fans salivating for years, only to find themselves unfulfilled again and again. Kickboxing followers have longed to see Badr Hari and Daniel Ghita step in the ring together for two years, yet the whenever it nears reality the bout falls apart, be it to bad judging in the Romanian’s first bout with Hesdy Gerges or the legal troubles on the side of “The Bad Boy”.

When you step into the world of MMA, the narrative of the sport is impossible to tell without speaking of dreams that simply fell by the wayside. Shamrock vs. Shamrock, UFC vs. PRIDE in the pinnacle of their strength, Fedor Emelianenko in the UFC heavyweight division, Gilbert Melendez in the UFC lightweight division, and until recently Anderson Silva vs. Georges St-Pierre.

It was argued recently that although a meeting between the two consensus top pound-for-pound fighters in MMA would undoubtedly be the biggest fight in the history of the sport, the bloom is off the rose. Reality has set in and the single most important contest in mixed martial arts is so very close to happening that fans are legitimately one fight away from seeing it. This is where anxiety kicks in and fanship is left wondering what could possibly go wrong this time.

Upon further reflection, the truth is that the match-up in question has not lost its luster, but the added variable that is Jon Jones has factored itself in. It would seem the interest of MMA fans has almost unanimously swayed to a proposed bout between Silva and Jones, which neither man expresses any interest in. This begs the question, is it the fights the fans care about or is it the dream?

Let’s assume for one second that “The Spider” does have his hand raised against GSP, the immediate reaction will more than likely be an extreme spike in the clamoring for Silva to face the  UFC Light Heavyweight Champion. Meanwhile, if St-Pierre were to win, that massive gulf in size between he and “Bones” would all but eliminate the idea that GSP could find himself facing the promotion’s youngest champion, at which point focus will likely shift to Jones, himself. The viewership would immediately put the onus on him to move up to heavyweight and face whoever stands as the champion of that realm.

Inevitably, one can’t discount the value of “dreams” in the arena of combat sports, at the end of the day, it ‘s these outlandish scenarios that keep intrigue alive, especially with the limited number of commercially viable stars in the UFC. While oversaturation is a word that has been thrown around with little scarcity of late, the fact remains that when Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, or Jon Jones is on a UFC bill, it is a social event. The idea of any combination of those three leaves MMA fans holding their breath not only because they are great fighters, but because they have transcended what was known as “popularity” and “success” in the sport for years. It’s only natural to want these things, but it’s also easy to ignore what the motivation behind that yearning is.

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