The current era of mixed martial arts competition is experiencing an overwhelming demand for super fights or money fights. The prospects of earning a hefty payday has always been appealing and in some cases, it’s become even more enticing than earning a title shot and with the state of pay in MMA being where it’s at, you can’t blame fighters for doing everything in their power to secure the biggest payday they can get their hands on. In a world of fans arguing whether or not somebody deserves a big money fight, it’s easy to forget that circumstances could play a role in allowing these so-called money fights to come to fruition. Right now, there are several fighters who find themselves in no man’s land, which could mean that now is the time to see a fighter or two jump to a different weight class to put on a show for fans. Here are some current fighters who have that potential.
Anderson Silva was just booked against Kelvin Gastelum for a showdown in China scheduled to take place in November, but before that Silva found himself in search of an opponent when Gastelum fell out of their UFC 212 bout in June. The “Spider” desperately searched for an opponent to no avail and one could say that Silva would still be in a tough spot after his fight against Gastelum, win or lose. Which is why it’s probably the best time for the potential greatest fighter of all time to entertain the possibility of fighting some dream opponents. First being, Georges St Pierre.
Georges St Pierre and Silva were viewed as the two most dominant champions in their respective divisions during the mid-to-late 2000’s, but there was no real interest in actually competing against each other. The fans were clamoring for the bout, but given the size difference between the two, GSP opted to remain put in his division. That is until now. If St Pierre can pull off becoming a two division UFC champion at UFC 217, who better to defend the title against than an older legend who would appear a lot more beatable than say, Robert Whittaker. Should GSP lose to Bisping, it’d still make for a compelling match up, but GSP stated that he is adamant on retiring the next time he comes up short in the octagon. Either way, GSP and Anderson Silva is intriguing enough for fans to tune into.
Another potential super fight could include another former dominant champion. He just happens to be coming off a title loss his last time out and is on the sidelines awaiting the winner between current UFC bantamweight champion, Cody Garbrandt and TJ Dillashaw. Dominick Cruz is considered a big bantamweight and expressed interest in moving up to featherweight if the UFC made it worth his while. The UFC could find a way to set up Jose Aldo against Dominick Cruz considering both men are coming off a loss and currently find themselves in a weird spot in their respective careers. Aldo might not be too keen on the idea of fighting somebody unranked, and Cruz might not be willing to fight Aldo since he is no longer the title holder, but we can dream can’t we? The two men are respective pioneers from the memorable WEC promotion that produced a variety of talent who are still around today. The fight would be some what of a dream fight similarly to Silva and GSP, in that both Cruz and Aldo ruled over their divisions for a long period of time, which is pretty rare nowadays.
If we take a look at a most recent UFC competitor coming off a loss, we’d find the incomparable Daniel Cormier. Cormier began his career at heavyweight until he set his eyes on the light heavyweight division, but after coming up short on two occasions against Jon Jones, it might be time to move back to the division he once ruled over during his Strikeforce days. Cormier could use a break from the bothersome weight cut he endures to make 205 lbs and set his eyes on the UFC’s heavyweight king, Stipe Miocic. Miocic is awaiting a better deal as well as a new opponent and while rumors began swirling involving Cain Velasquez being the next title challenger later in the year, Velasquez’s health remains questionable. If Cain can’t answer the call, who better than his training partner and good friend, DC? It sounds like something you’d find in a movie script, but it works for both men. Cormier can strive for gold one more time against a man who is in search of a big name opponent and a pay day that comes along with it. Not to mention, the fight has potential to be incredible. And, what better way to steal Jon Jones’ thunder than for DC to skip Brock Lesnar altogether in favor of challenging the heavyweight champion, something Jones hasn’t shown much interest in attempting.
The flyweight division has been highly criticized, or better yet the UFC’s flyweight champion has been the subject of heavy criticism as of late, but there is one flyweight who could make a case for being put in a tougher spot. That man is Joseph Benavidez. If you were to look up the term, no man’s land, you’d find Joseph Benavidez residing comfortably for the past three years. Benavidez, like Cormier has suffered two losses to his division’s champion, but he is still relatively young at 33-years-old. Benavidez is not considered a large 125 pounder by any stretch, but a bump up to 135 lbs could set him up for some intriguing match ups. The first being a potential grudge match against John Dodson. The two men were once included in the 125 lb division, until Dodson made the move up to bantamweight following his second loss to Johnson. The two men seemed destined to do battle at 125 lbs, but unfortunately fate had other plans. However, both men could still make for a nice scrap somewhere down the line. Former World Series of Fighting bantamweight champion, Marlon Moraes came up short in his UFC debut against Raphael Assuncao at UFC 212 two months back. Benavidez could possibly have some interest in bumping up an extra 10 lbs to challenge a proven champion. Never say never.
Another possibile candidate for a fight outside of their division is none other than the fan friendly and always exciting, Edson Barboza. As recent as last month, Barboza expressed interest in dropping down to featherweight to possibly face Jose Aldo. Barboza is one of Frankie Edgar’s main training partners and could perhaps attempt to avenge his friend’s two losses against the former featherweight king. The fight wouldn’t be Barboza’s only option at 145. Given Barboza’s style of fighting, there could be interest in setting him up against somebody like Cub Swanson. Or maybe engage in a kicking battle against somebody like Yair Rodriguez who could use a break from a grappling based fighter. Rodriguez was last seen being outmatched against Frankie Edgar, which could make things come full circle if he can knock off Barboza. The fans are the real winners in any fight involving either of the two really.
Demian Maia is coming off a not just a loss in the title opportunity he worked so long to obtain, he lost a uneventful decision and judging by Dana White’s post fight reaction, he is unlikely to earn another shot anytime soon. At 39-years-old, the clock is ticking for Maia and although he appeared dead set on remaining in the 170 lb division, he was originally competing in the 185 lb division upon entering the UFC and did fairly well for himself. With the middleweight division currently at a stalemate, why shouldn’t he consider moving up to face another jiu jitsu master in “Jacare” Souza. The battle between both grappling experts would undoubtedly be intriguing to fans who have argued which of the two would come out on top in a scrambling battle.
Most of these fights are unlikely to come to fruition, but if any of them do, we’d certainly be in for a treat.