x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Big two may get bigger

Speculation has been rife that Dana White, the league's president, might soon order both champions to change divisions in a bid to end their duopoly.

ABU DHABI // BJ Penn and Anderson Silva are overwhelming favourites to defend their respective lightweight and middleweight titles tomorrow night. Speculation has been rife that Dana White, the mixed martial arts (MMA) league's president and fight allocator, might soon order both champions to change divisions in a bid to end their duopoly. It is not something White refutes, but he does reject the notion that the pairs' dominance is bad for the sport. "I think it's good when you have strong dominant champions like these guys," he stressed.

"They are unbelievable fighters and respected champions, we've got two of thebest pound-for-pound fighters in the world on this card." White, like the rest of MMA, is in awe of their ability. "BJ is real close to cleaning up the lightweight division and making a move up. We'll see what happens there. I'm always singing Anderson's praises because he's so talented. He can do whatever he wants to do.

Even if Silva defeats Demian Maia, his middleweight reign might be over. The champion stoked the prospect of a mega fight with Georges St Pierre, the welterweight king, earlier this week, saying he would happily cut down to the Canadian's weight of 170 pounds. White believes Silva could step up or down. "He wants to fight GSP then fight a heavyweight, it's crazy," White said. "This sport is not like boxing where you move three pounds and you're up another division, it's a big jump. He'd have to work at his take-down defence because the last place he wants to be against those heavyweight guys is on his back.

"But I believe Anderson is the one guy who could do it. He could win the title at 170, 185, 205 (light heavyweight) and possibly fight at heavyweight."