February 4, 2011
Vegas prepares for star-studded MMA card
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
LAS VEGAS — Just in case there isn’t enough testosterone in town for Super Bowl XLV, Anderson (The Spider) Silva is here and capable of putting it over the top.
As Sin City begins to swell for the annual football party Sunday afternoon, UFC 126 is a perfect Saturday night undercard for a rollicking Vegas weekend.
With mixed martial arts headline events surpassing all but the rare big-ticket boxing bouts in a city that loves its macho events, the fight crowd gets their fix in a star-studded card at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
And in Silva, the Brazilian has its most powerful draw outside of a fighter from a certain country north of the U.S. border.
MMA purists argue back and forth about who is the better pound-for-pound fighter — Silva or Canadian star Georges St. Pierre. They are different weight classes and possess different styles, but the prospect of the two meeting following their next bouts is too juicy to dismiss.
In fact, as dangerous as it is to look ahead in any sport, the possibility of Silva and GSP squaring off sometime late in 2011 is the strong undercurrent surrounding UFC 126.
Silva, who is 12-0 and hasn’t lost since 1996, will face fellow Brazilian and a former training partner Vitor Belfort in the co-main event of a deep card befitting the buzz of Super Bowl weekend.
St. Pierre is scheduled to be the overwhelming headliner when the big show makes its first stop in Toronto for UFC 129 on April 30.
“This is one of those dream fights, super fights,” UFC president Dana White told reporters here at a pre-fight press conference this week.
“I’d like to do it. People have been talking about it forever.
“If Georges St. Pierre wins (in Toronto), what’s next? — To step up and challenge the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.Right now, if you asked anybody and probably everybody here, people would flip and flop over who’s No. 1.
“A lot of people tell me they think Georges St. Pierre is No. 1 pound-for-pound. I truly believe Anderson Silva is pound-for-pound the best fighter. I don’t know how anybody could deny it. But people do believe that Georges St. Pierre is too.”
“So you’ve got No. 1 and No. 2 pound-for-pound. I just think as far as their legacies go, it would be huge for both guys.”
GSP disciples would take exception to White’s ranking of the sport’s top draws, but that’s part of the promotional bluster that makes the sport the draw that it is.
A Silva-St. Pierre clash would require some logistical challenges, though none that would seem insurmountable. The Canadian would likely have to relinquish his welterweight belt and fight at Silva’s middleweight class.
But first things first here in the desert Saturday night. After an intriguing “co” main event between light heavyweights and fan favourites Forrest Griffin and Rich (Ace) Franklin, Silva and Belfort will enter the octagon for their title clash.
While the St. Pierre faithful might find ways to take exception to it, Silva’s dominance and star-power can’t be denied. Here on the Vegas strip, he will attempt to defend his title for a record eighth time and has never lost since joining the UFC (12-0.)
As powerful as he can be on fight night, Silva played it coy this week issuing, through a translator, one-word answers about the task that awaits.
“I don’t give a (bleep) if he sits there and doesn’t say a word,” White said. “As long as he shows up Saturday night and fights, I’m fine with that. Listen, people don’t pay $50 (on pay per view) to hear him speak.”
No, they pay him to fight and he just might have his hands full in a bout that is getting unprecedented in their homeland.
“I’m prepared and I don’t have any pressure,” Belfort said at his media conference. “If I bleed, I’ll fix it after. If I break, I’ll fix it after. I’m here to entertain.”