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Is Lyoto Machida versus Anderson Silva the UFC’s Manny Paquiao and Floyd Mayweather?

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lyotosilvaThe one fight we will not see in boxing that we should is Manny Paquiao versus Floyd Mayweather. We never will see it and it breaks my fight fan heart. The MMA fight we did not get was Anderson Silva versus Lyoto Machida in their primes. The reasons these fights did not and will not happen are very different.

It is all about the “Money” man

The reason we will not see the boxers fight is Mayweather and his love of money. It is not his style to face a fighter who might beat him. He will wait for them to slip a little and then fight them, but he is nearing the end of his career and Paquiao is still a dangerous opponent for him. He will not slip enough before Mayweather retires. He only has a few more fights left and he will choose opponents he knows he can beat.

Mayweather has come out and admitted that he has chosen he opponents wisely. It is hard to argue against his choices as the man also known as “Money” makes the most of it. He out earns the average boxer you see on TV by a 1000 times or more. He is also boxing’s biggest draw and will continue to be one of them for the rest of his career.

Do not get me wrong Mayweather is a very talented fighter. He could be one of the all time greats but we will never really know as he avoided the fights that would have tested him. For Mayweather the 50-0 record is what he seeks. His reputation will live and die on that number. Most books about him will include caveats about him essentially ducking the real challenges of his career. The ones that fighters before him embraced.

The last two “Golden Eras” of boxing

I became a fight fan in the Seventies and Eighties. First was professional wrestling and boxing. I would watch the last great era of heavyweights with names like Ali, Frazier, Norton, Foreman and Shavers were at the top of the sport and fought each other.

You knew and know what “The Thrilla in Manila” and the “Rumble in the Jungle” are if you are a boxing fan. Their fights were epic. Not the just the hype for them but the actual fights themselves.

Ali’s claim as the greatest rang more true because he faced and beat the best throughout his career. Sure he lost some but that is what happens when you choose to take on the challenges, instead of ducking them. As the heavyweights started to fade four fighters were poised to takeover.

Hearns, Hagler, Leonard and Duran

Again all you really need are the names and they conjure up images of greatness. When ESPN put together their list of the  top ten fights of the past 30 years last August three of the top five were their fights. Including Hearns versus Hagler at #1. It is the greatest short fight for me. It has more actions in it’s almost three rounds then many full fights.

It is rare to get such great fighters close enough in weight classes to actually fight each other. Then to have them to actually want to fight each other makes for some incredible and again epic fights.

It is not their records by which these fighters are defined but the fights they engaged in. By the moments they created inside of the ring by facing each other when the fights were dangerous for both of the fighters. Again their fights were not only about the hype but the actual fights.

With a little help from my friends 

One of the big differences between MMA and boxing is the team element. In boxing it is teams of one and it is rare to see two top fighters in the same weight class. If they are close in weight boxing with their myriad of weight classes and their subsets allow for them to have healthy careers and avoid each other.

In MMA the weight classes are more spread out with generally 10 to 15 pounds separating them instead of just 2 or 3 pounds like in boxing. It is a lot to move up or down in MMA but the closeness of the average MMA team has created that situation several times. One of them was Machida and Silva.

Even when Machida held the light heavyweight title people speculated that middleweight might be his best weight class. He would always weigh-in a pound or two under the limit. This is usually an indication of someone who is not really cutting weight. It also meant that he was usually giving up 20 pounds or more on the night of the fight to his opponent.

After he lost the title people would speculate about him moving down in weight. He would always decline to consider it because of his friendship with Silva. It left people to speculate on what might go down if they ever fought.

A fight nerds dream fight and super fight all in one 

What would have happened if these two had fought in their primes? The pre-fight talk would feature fight nerds, especially the striking, ones in a state of perpetual excitement analyzing angles and distance. Trying to figure out who’s footwork and movement would prevail. Which fighter’s fakes and feints would create an opening. Which counter striker could bait the other into a mistake and whether or not one of the them would become the aggressor.

At one point these were two of the best strikers and fighters in the UFC and we have seen that Machida probably should have been fighting at middleweight. It only makes sense that they should have fought at some point. It would be different if one of them would have been stretching to make the other’s weight class but instead they both seem like natural middleweights.

The weight cut down to middleweight obviously has not hurt Machida’s cardio as he increased his output throughout his fight with Weidman. In rounds 1-3 Machida threw 55 strikes and landed 20 of them. In the last two rounds he threw 90 strikes and landed 43 of them. He did this while maintaining his usual perpetual motion fighting style.

Machida also showed tremendous heart and fighting spirit in this fight. He was trying to win the fight right up until the final moments. He never broke in this fight when many fighters would have. Silva also shares that same spirit and belief in himself.

In the first fight with Chael Sonnen he was manhandled for most of the fight but still found a way to win the fight. Again, most fighters would break beneath such a one-sided beating but Silva is special and really showed us on that night. He proved that his spirit would not break and you would have to put him away to beat him.

It is one of those dream fights that people will speculate about over the years. For me it is the super-fight I would have wanted to see, more so than St-Pierre versus Silva. I understand why it did not happen and respect that as friends they did not want to fight. I do not think that they should have been forced, or pressured to fight each other.

Still, it is fun to dream and if they had fought in their primes it would have been epic. It has been rare in the UFC to get two uniques strikers like these two at the same time in the same weight class. At least they did not duck each other out of ego to protect their records but instead avoided the fight because of their respect and friendship.

They both have created many of special moments in the octagon. This one could have potentially one of the greatest displays of MMA striking. Instead it will be one to debate and play out on the UFC EA Sports game.

An avid lifetime fight fan who loves to write about it. So kick back, get comfortable and let's have some fun! "Wants me to tell him something pretty." Al Sweargen "Going wrong is not the end of fucking things, Johnny. Fuck no! I have comeback from plenty of shit that looked like it was going wrong." Dan Dority "Deserve's got nothin' to do with it." Bill Munny

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