Now that Dana White and GSP have both confirmed officially that the Canadian legend is coming back to fight, we have to wonder who will fight the man who many consider the greatest fighter of all time.
Without question, GSP must always be included in talks about who is the ‘GOAT’, or “greatest of all time” in MMA. His 25-2 record against the highest calibre fighters absolutely speaks for itself. His only losses were to Matt Hughes (early in his career), whom he starched in the rematch, and to Matt Serra, which was a flash KO. GSP dominated Serra in the rematch, too.
Everybody else felt the power of GSP’s impeccable wrestling and top control in their very first attempt to topple Canada’s finest, and absolutely nobody could stop him from executing the exact same game-plan every time. Elite wrestlers were out-wrestled, elite-BJJ guys were completely neutralised, and as for elite strikers? They were on the mat before you could say “double leg!”
GSP’s style didn’t always win fans though, and a streak of 7 decision wins to end his career on wasn’t what everyone would call exciting. His final win too, was a razor thin split decision against the then-surging Johny Hendricks. I thought he lost the fight, and afterward at the press conference when he said he needed a break from fighting, it seemed like he’d lost his fire and passion for fighting, too.
His passion seems very much back now, though, and at 35 the welterweight GOAT may well still have plenty left in the tank. Which he’ll need, because whoever he ends up fighting is certainly not going to be a can to crush.
Option 1: Michael Bisping
This one initially seems a little odd, because GSP is a welterweight and Bisping is the middleweight champ, and had a fight basically booked already against top contender (and straight killer) Yoel Romero. But things change fast in MMA and money talks. Bisping has now declined the fight with Yoel, needing knee surgery. By the time Bisping is back in the spring, interest in the Yoel fight will have shrunk, and a cross-divisional ‘mega’ fight could be the crowd pleaser and money maker. And you can bet your bottom dollar that Bisping would rather skip the powerful striking of Romero for the big money fight against GSP.
While GSP was reigning at welterweight, Silva was long time champ at middleweight. That fight never happened, but it was the longest talked-about ‘superfight’ in MMA history. It seemed unfair for GSP to go up and have to fight the much bigger man in Silva, but against Bisping I think people would give GSP a much bigger chance at winning. And to see him come back and immediately become a two-divisional champ would be huge. Which leads us to option 2…
Option 2: Anderson Silva
Maybe GSP is feeling a little old right now. Sure, 35 isn’t too bad, but he’s taken his fair share of damage. Maybe he’s looking at the top guys and thinking “I don’t know if this is for me anymore.” Well then, perhaps the original superfight against Silva is perfect. Even without a belt on the line, this would still be one of the biggest fights of all time, and it’d be a crazy style match-up. Silva is 41 now of course, but he’s also much bigger and longer. GSP would have a big wrestling advantage, but Silva has those long limbs on the ground too. I can see this happening as part of GSP’s comeback plan. First, the mega-fight. If he wins, then he gets a title-shot at welterweight OR middleweight for sure. Both money and glory are covered with this route.
Option 3: The winner of Tyron Woodley and Stephen Thompson
— #UFCHalifax (@ufc) February 19, 2017
While the first two options would both happen in the middleweight division, this is the logical fight for GSP at his welterweight home. Without a doubt I’m sure the winner of this title fight happening at UFC 209 on March 4th would love the big money fight against GSP. Top contender Demian Maia will probably cry himself to sleep for months if he’s denied his title shot yet again, but Dana White won’t lose any sleep on Maia’s behalf if there’s dollars to be made.
Option 4: Nick Diaz
GSP has a long-standing beef with the older Diaz brother, whom he beat back in 2013 at UFC 158. This option is more similar to the Silva option in that it would be a non-title fight, but would still garner significant interest from the casual fans, and hardcore fans alike. It’s probably the ‘easiest’ fight on the list, and we haven’t seen Nick in the cage for over two years.
Nick is likely to only fight for big money. He’s even talked about how he doesn’t even like fighting, and now only wants the big paydays to keep his lifestyle comfortable. This fight certainly fits the bill, and if the UFC come a-knockin’, then I’m certain Nick will take the multi-million dollar fight.
Option 5: Conor McGregor
some poke pic.twitter.com/0hKaQpS2R3
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) February 18, 2017
This is the craziest option from a weight class perspective, given that GSP is a large welterweight who could certainly fight at middleweight, and Conor is a lightweight who’s fought at featherweight a lot. When Conor fought Nate Diaz at welterweight, he weighed in both times under the 170 lb limit at 168, and his muscular frame for those bouts seemed to work against him.
That said, McGregor certainly enjoys a challenge and I don’t think that being the significantly smaller guy against the MMA’s greatest wrestler would phase him. McGregor is currently having a beef with the UFC, but he’s a guy who only wants the money fights and this could be the one to bring the lightweight champ back in from the cold.
The fight couldn’t happen at lightweight for McGregor’s belt, because GSP can’t get down to lightweight. So it would happen at welterweight and would be a non-title fight, which would suit McGregor as less would be on the line, and his aura at lightweight wouldn’t be damaged much.
I honestly couldn’t say who I think GSP will fight. Each of these options is viable right now, and every potential fight would be a must-see. If I had to bet I’d put my money on the Bisping fight, as it’s one I think GSP thinks he can win, and then he can go down in history as one of the few men with a belt in two weight classes. But things could easily go a different route. Only time will tell, and we’ll all be waiting eagerly for the news…
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