Jon "Bones" Jones versus Anderson "The Spider" Silva is closer than it's ever been.
Jones successfully defended his light heavyweight title on Saturday night at UFC 159, beating Chael Sonnen to a pulp to push his career MMA record to 18-1 and his title-defense streak to five—a mark now tied with Tito Ortiz for the most in the weight class.
After watching Jones thoroughly dominate Sonnen for just over four minutes in the Octagon on Saturday night, there's only one matchup that captures both Jones' increasing talent and Silva's long-term excellence in the UFC—one against each other.
A Silva/Jones clash is on the horizon, and UFC president Dana White needs to make sure it happens after UFC 162, when Silva returns to the Octagon to defend his middleweight title against Chris Weidman.
After UFC 159 was in the books, Sonnen did what he does best in the post-fight press conference, proclaiming that Jones and Silva—the last two men to beat Sonnen in succession—are too scared to call each other out and settle who the UFC's best fighter really is.
Here's his fuel on the already rampant fire (h/t Ryan McKinnell of MMA Weekly):
If you’re gonna go fight a guy, go fight a guy. It drives me crazy, man. People are out talking about Anderson and Jon – these guys, right now, should be begging (Dana White) to fight each other...But it’s not gonna go that way. You got these two guys, and they’re great, but they’re a couple of chickens. They should be calling each other out.
They should be grabbing the mic and saying, ‘Hey, I want to fight that guy! I don’t want the debate...But it won’t happen that way. Dana’s gonna have to call these guys, and they’re gonna have to dangle a carrot. And then they’re gonna want to negotiate. We’re in the fight business, if you don’t want to fight, then don’t raise your hand.
White responded to the comments with promising news that this feud might actually take place in the near future (via UFC on Twitter):
Whether White is pulling our legs and teasing a phone call is irrelevant to the matter at hand. White proved to be thinking in line with what millions of UFC's paying customers have been thinking for the last year.
This fight needs to happen.
Of course, White teased us with the Georges St-Pierre reference for a reason. A huge draw himself, the Canadian welterweight champion would pose an interesting blend of patience and grappling ability that Silva has never seen before.
While that fight would pit two of the sports' long-standing champions against each other, it makes way less sense when you listen to GSP's concerns about moving up to face Silva in the middleweight division. In fact, GSP all but ruled out a bout with Silva earlier in the week (h/t MMA Weekly):
Anderson Silva is very big. He’s 230 pounds. He’s a very big guy, walking around very big and I’m 190 pounds...I don’t do a lot of cutting. It would be easier for me to go fight at 155 than fighting at 185. I would be more at my weight naturally.
There’s guys at 155 that walk around 190 like me...They think I’m big because I have a large frame, but I’m not a big guy. I’m not thick. If he wants to make 170, I weigh 170, and he can (come down to) 170, that’s fine.
There's no way Silva drops out of his weight class to face GSP, even if that fight would shatter pay-per-view sales in Canada and Brazil.
That makes Jones and Silva the more likely bout out of the two that Silva "called" White about on Saturday night, and it's the one that would send shock waves through the UFC community.
While Silva is a veteran fighter (33-4 career record) at age 38, he has by no means lost a step in the ring. His last four fights haven't made it out of the second round, and his last real scare was against Sonnen back in August of 2010.
Silva is getting better with age, it would appear.
His UFC record for title defenses (10) is tops in any division, and his most recent victory at UFC 153 came against Stephan Bonnar fighting in—you guessed it—the light heavyweight division. Silva destroyed Bonnar in similar fashion to how Jones beat Sonnen on Saturday night, taking just seven seconds longer to dispatch his opponent.
By that same token, Jones' meteoric rise to fame has some on edge about the kind of firepower we would see in a clash between the elder statesman and new-age hero.
The youngest UFC champion in the history of the company, Jones is now the most marketable fighter in the sport. He attracted another huge draw both being the coach of The Ultimate Fighter and fighting at UFC 159 and sits No. 2 on the UFC pound-for-pound rankings.
The man in front of him? Anderson Silva.
While exciting to think about, this match will have to be put off for a few months. Jones broke his toe during the first round of the fight against Sonnen, presumably while battering the challenger's face during the stand-up portion of the night.
Expect him to get a sizable post-fight medical suspension while things heal up. Silva isn't scheduled to get back into the ring until July against Weidman. However, If Silva knocks off Weidman, and things go according to plan, you won't want to miss the post-fight press conference at UFC 162.
It should announce a future fight between the UFC's two biggest stars.
Follow Ethan Grant on Twitter: Follow @DowntownEG