White and UFC matchmaker Joe Silva want each titlist to clean out their respective divisions and make the showdown inevitable. They want the fight to be completely obvious, to everyone, leaving no doubt that this is the fight that has to be made.
Problem is, that’s impossible. The divisions are filthy with new challenges. It’s an indefinite, super-fight derailing fact. And Jake Ellenberger just proved the point.
Not only did Ellenberger beat a top-five welterweight in Jake Shields, but he did it in 53 possessed seconds. If Shields was worthy to challenge St. Pierre at UFC 129, then surely Ellenberger -- who, counting Shields, has finished four of his last five UFC fights and won them all -- can’t be anything other than a new challenge to that throne. Every cusp fighter who makes a statement against the old guard looks exactly like a challenger. It’s the nature of the rungs. Hungry fighters like Ellenberger will always look imposing, if not necessarily unique.
If St. Pierre gets by Carlos Condit at UFC 137, there’s Nick Diaz (whom he was supposed to face), B.J. Penn (again), Jon Fitch and the one they are saying is cast in GSP's likeness, Rory MacDonald. And of course, there's Ellenberger, Johny Hendricks, Charlie Brenneman and Rick Story. For every foe that he sweeps under the rug, there’s another looking like the GSP antidote right behind him.
In other words, St. Pierre isn’t about to run out of challenges anytime soon.
And, to a lesser extent, neither is Silva. Take a look at the middleweight division, and you can see at least two or three more fights. There’s Chael Sonnen, who came very close to ending Silva’s run at UFC 117 (asterisks in tow), There's Brian Stann, who if he gets by Sonnen deserves the shot. Then there’s Michael Bisping and Mark Munoz, who’ve never had a crack at Silva. Dan Henderson says he’ll cut down to 185 pounds for one reason and one only, and that’s to do battle again with Silva. Granted, Silva is a lot closer to cleaning out his division than GSP, but there’s still a lot of work to be done for a guy who will be 37 years old in the spring.
The UFC has never been overly protective of its champions. The idea is always to book the strapholder against the guy they think can/will beat them. That’s the way it is, and for those who’ve watched boxing over the years; it’s a refreshing way to go about business. And that’s also the problem. There are guys always coming up that have the look and feel of somebody compellingly dangerous for the invulnerable champion.
That’s why the UFC has to decide that enough is enough and that a super-fight between GSP/Silva needs to happen. It’d be an incredibly lucrative fight, a colossal pay-per-view with a massive gate that could sell out a venue like Cowboys Stadium. They know this. Yet the big draw -- that both guys are invincible -- is left at risk the longer GSP and Silva are dangled out there to defend. One day, one or the other will lose.
GSP/Silva is getting down to now or never ... and if it’s a matter of each fighter cleaning out his division, then, unfortunately, it’s headed toward never.