Pound-for-Pound Best Fighter on the Planet
It’s an elusive title that typically compares fighters that have little to no chance of fighting each other because of their respective weight classes.
In boxing, it’s very difficult to argue that Manny Pacquiao, after his recent drubbing of Antonio Margarito, isn’t the current pound-for-pound best boxer in the world, if not the best in boxing’s storied history. He has now won world titles in eight different weight classes ranging from 112 to 150 pounds. That’s a fairly wide swing in combat sports.
The argument, however, rages on in the mixed martial arts world.
While several names dot the fringe of the argument – Jose Aldo, Fedor Emelianenko, Frankie Edgar, Jon Fitch – the focus centers on two men, Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre.
St-Pierre has lost just twice in his career in 22 attempts, once to Matt Hughes and once to Matt Serra. He has avenged both, even defeating Hughes twice following the initial loss. He’s also bested the likes of B.J. Penn, Josh Koscheck, Thiago Alves, Dan Hardy, Jon Fitch, and numerous other top tier fighters.
Silva’s record currently sits at 27-4, but he hasn’t lost a fight in more than four years, dating back to before he set foot in the Octagon. His streak sits at 13 straight victories over the likes of Chael Sonnen, Demian Maia, Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, and Nate Marquardt.
Most fans and pundits sit whole-heartedly on one side of the fence or the other. You’re either solidly in St-Pierre’s camp, saying he is the pound-for-pound best, or you’re singing the praises of Silva.
One man who is squarely on the side of Anderson Silva is UFC president Dana White.
“The thing is about Anderson Silva, the guy hasn’t lost since 2006, and he’s actually moved up in weight class and beat guys at 205, too. When people try to argue with me that this guy isn’t the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, it’s crazy,” said White recently.
He makes a solid point. While St-Pierre has defeated many of the top fighters in the world, they have all been in his weight class at 170 pounds. The current UFC welterweight champion hasn’t moved up or down over the course of his career. Silva has.
Winning the Shooto 167-pound divisional title in just his sixth professional fight, by defeating vaunted Japanese fighter Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, Silva has fought at several different weights. He moved up and captured titles at middleweight, dropped back down to compete at 176 pounds, and even bounced up for a couple of fights at 205 pounds, including his utter destruction of Forrest Griffin, a former UFC light heavyweight champion.
In an argument about the pound-for-pound best, it’s difficult to argue against a guy that has fought, like Manny Pacquiao in boxing, at so many different weights.
“Even a fight where he’s getting beat for 4.75 rounds and then pulls out the armbar and wins the fight, that’s the stuff that makes you a legend,” added White, referring to his recent win over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. “This guy has won by knockout, he’s won by submission, he’s won every way you could possibly win.
“And the other thing people don’t give this guy credit for, he’s 36 years old. I think some people think this guy’s 26 or something. He’s 36 years old and he’s still dominant. Every fight he’s had hasn’t been a highlight reel knockout or whatever, but the guy continues to win and beat the best in the world.”
So does St-Pierre, but again, Silva has done it in multiple weight classes, more often than not with devastating results.
Fans – and UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta – have long yearned for a showdown between Silva and St-Pierre, and unlike many fighters that are considered among the pound-for-pound best, these two could actually fight some day.
At 170 pounds, St-Pierre is rather large for his weight class, and Silva, currently ruling the roost at 185 pounds, has fought down that low before. Whether he would or could do it again remains to be seen, but even a catchweight superfight wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility for these two kingpins.
But until that fight happens, or one or the other of them falters, the argument will rage on…
Who is the pound-for-pound best mixed martial arts fighter on the planet?