So as we near an answer to whether this fight will happen now, later, or ever, I thought it worth while to take a look at the biggest arguments to date for why this fight shouldn't happen. As I see it, these are the most used:
1. St. Pierre is too small
2. Jones vs Silva is a fairer fight
3. It's not fair to St. Pierre to have to move up to catchweight since he's not asking for this fight
4. There are too many fights left in their respective divisions
5. Superfights are bad for the sport
St. Pierre is too small
I find this argument to be very interesting in light of Frankie Edgars run at lightweight. If you look at the height and reach difference between Edgar and Henderson they are very close to what St. Pierre's would be to Silva's. Then look at the weight difference of Edgar and Maynard who is said to walk around close to 200lbs whereas Frankie is said to walk around at 155. GSP is said to walk around between 180 and 185 and Anderson between 210 and 220 which is almost an identical weight difference. Even frame size which is an extremely important factor to look at here, both Henderson and Maynard looked huge compared to Edgar, definitely no bigger than Silva was to GSP. So if Edgar, (who is a fantastic fighter but I doubt very many people would place him in the same conversation as GSP), was able to find such success against considerably larger opponents (and not just for one fight, but consistently as a champion), I find it difficult to believe that either the weight or size difference between Silva and GSP is going have as profound an impact as everyone is saying. This is particularly true if Silva makes the cut to a 175-180 catch weight. Bottom line, there will definitely be a size advantage for Silva, but to say GSP is too small is insulting to GSP as a fighter, and ignores a lot of variables that effect the outcome of a fight.
Jones and Silva is a fairer fight
This one really baffles me, if you compare just the facts, without any of the intangibles I find this statement to be completely ludicrous. Let's take a look:
31 yrs - 180-185lbs - 5'9/5'10 - 76'' reach
Difference 35lbs - 4/5" - 1.6"
37 yrs - 215-220lbs - 6'2 - 77.6'' reach
Difference 10lbs - 2" - 7"
25 yrs - 225-230lbs - 6'4 - 84.5" reach
So looking at age first, which I know I'm going to get flack for but hear me out. No matter how in shape you are, age plays into how quickly you recover, your speed, even your strength to some degree. While Silva certainly has shown no signs of slowing down, a near 10 year age difference is going to make jones the fresher (physically speaking) opponent. Now we can argue that Silva's experience nullifies this advantage which I'll talk on later, but sticking with only quantifiable data, Jones will have a considerable physical advantage in youth over Silva. Which interestingly GSP does too.
The weight is a different story because Silva is certainly closer to Jones here, but we also have to look at where that weight is coming from. If you look at GSP I'd argue the bulk of his weight comes from muscle mass, whereas the bulk of Jone weight comes from his frame. Silva seems to be somewhere in between on this one, but I'd guess if you stripped the muscle off, Silva would land somewhere around 185-195 just in frame weight, whereas Jones is almost all frame and weighs what Silva weighs bulked up. I can see the argument for the size/weight difference being closer between Silva and Jones, but I think it's grossly exaggerated, and the reality is it's almost equal when you look at all the factors, with perhaps a tilt in Jones being the less fair fight of the two.
Height is a little easier because there's not many intangibles here. If we were to only look at height as the indicator of fairness it is definitely in favor of Silva vs Jones, but I'm certain no one would attempt to make that argument.
Then there's reach which I think a strong argument could be made that this has a much greater impact on the fight than weight, and those that would disagree I think would have to meet me in the middle in that it is at least as relevant as weight. This fact alone makes GSP vs Silva a definitively more fair fight, particularly when you take the frame size and weight difference into account. Basically Jones has a minor advantage in weight and a substantial advantage in reach which gives him the advantage in the two most important physical categories available to measure in a fight; whereas, Silva has a substantial weight difference, but only a slight reach advantage, which depending on what you consider the more relevant factor still doesn't add up to the difference between Silva and Jones. At best you could argue that based solely on physicality these two fights nullify eachother in that Silva would have an equal advantage over GSP as Jones would have over Silva. Either way, if Silva is the focus of this conversation then it's a moot point because his advantage over GSP is nullified by his disadvantage to Jones. Bottom line, it's as unfair (in physical terms) for GSP to Silva as it is for Silva to Jones.
It's not fair to St. Pierre to have to move up to catchweight since he's not asking for this fight
This one I think is pretty straight forward. If you want to be the G.O.A.T you have to share the risk. GSP has said he wants to be the greatest welterweight, he's also said he wants to fight Anderson. It seems the only hold up for GSP at this point is the timing since changing weight for him is apparently a challenge. To this I'd simply say if Anderson goes to 170 and beats GSP he gets the G.O.A.T. (no pun intended) but this does not work the other way. If he loses to GSP at 170 GSP doesn't get G.O.A.T. because he did not share the risk. So, fair or not is not really the question, it's what is the fight for. If it's for G.O.A.T. GSP has to go up, if it's only for Anderson to prove he's G.O.A.T. then he doesn't.
There are too many fights left in the respective divisions
I can appreciate where the people who make this point are coming from. It's a sport so you should clean out your division before you do other things. Agreed. The only problem with this, which Luke Thomas pointed out, is that sport or not, it has to make money to continue. Since MMA at present doesn't have the clout and committed fan base that other sports have there are sacrifices that have to be made, for the greater good as it were. One thing to consider here is that football didn't become the NFL conglomerate that it is today overnight, it has taken over 60+ years. MMA is a young sport and still very fragile, which means like in politics, you have to play the game. That said, let's look at the fights that are left in each division. For GSP you basically only have Johnny Hendrix, which I agree absolutely deserves a title shot. For Anderson you have Weidman, and Bisping. Weidman by looks alone I think is deserving, but I don't know that you could make the case for his record being the basis. Not that a strong record has been the indicator of contention in the past, but something to consider. Then you have Bisping who based on record has a case, but based on performance hasn't shown anything that I would call impressive enough to warrant a fight with Silva. Particularly since he lost a controversial decision to Sonnen recently. If he really was a contender I would have expected him to at least beat if not decisively beat Sonnen. All this aside however the fact remains that for the health of the sport this fight needs to happen. Does it feel forced, does it seem like the wrong time? Absolutely. Does it matter? No, because the casual fan is the majority at this point and they don't care about hierarchy, fairness, or legitimacy, they only care about one thing, spectacle, and there is no greater spectacle than Silva/GSP Silva/Jones.
Superfights are bad for the sport
This was basically covered in the last paragraph, but for the sake of giving this it's fair share of attention, I'll take a moment here. I find it interesting that people are so quick to throw out what is and isn't good for the sport. Particularly since this is such a subjective line of thinking. The truth is combat sports have existed as a niche attraction for years, maybe even thousands of years. That being said, it hasn't been able to break into the mainstream because there has never been a unifying factor. Case in point, football looks like football no matter where you play, unless your talking about "futbal" of course. With martial arts the list of possible combat genres are nearly endless. This makes it difficult to market, difficult to get involved in, and most importantly for a sport, difficult to follow. Boxing understood this and has succeeded because they mixed american spectacle with a single form of combat, which meant something anyone could follow and understand. Another thing to take into consideration is that a sport succeeds on the power of the talent it attracts, not how good the rules are or interesting the sport is. Consider the difference between high school football and NFL, same sport, but which one do you really want to watch? Talent however cost money, and money comes from fans. Needless to say creating a new sport is expensive because talent brings the fans and fans bring the money which buys the talent, so now you have the whole chicken egg issue. MMA is rapidly gaining traction, but it is still more spectacle than sport to the uninitiated. 10 years from now it may be different, but until then what is good for the sport is publicity, because publicity brings fans, fans bring money, money buys talent, which brings more fans, and you get the idea. Bottom line, like it or not, until you have legitimacy, spectacle is what buys fans, even in mainstream sports. If it wasn't true you'd see the same ticket sales for the super bowl as any other game.
This fights sum is greater than it's parts. Fairness doesn't matter, hierarchy doesn't matter, mine and your opinion doesn't matter. At the end of the day Silva vs GSP and Jones needs to happen. It needs to happen for all of these fighters legacies, and it needs to happen for the history and future of this sport. As for my prediction... Give me some comments so I know people are reading and I'll write up my assessment of both fights.