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Silva suddenly rooting against Jones? OK, it's not much ... but it's a start

Jon Jones (left) and Anderson Silva are friends, but Silva will root against Jones at UFC 152. [Jason Merritt/Getty Images]

So we’re finally going to see Anderson Silva going against Jon Jones.

No, the UFC middleweight and light heavyweight champions, the No. 1 and No. 2 fighters in every mixed martial arts pound-for-pound ranking outside of Georges St-Pierre’s parents’ house, have not agreed to square off inside the octagon. They doused the rising fan groundswell for a superfight a couple of months ago by basically walking arm-in-arm singing “You’ve Got a Friend” in two-part harmony.

But while “Bones” is too close of a friend for Silva to fight, Jon is apparently not so tight of an amigo that “The Spider” refuses to root against the guy. Amigo is “friend” in Portuguese, which is the language of Brazil, where Silva is from. And where Jones’ next opponent, Vitor Belfort, is from.

“As a Brazilian, I’ll be rooting for the Brazilian, even though I have a very good friendship with Jon Jones,” Silva said when asked about the UFC 152 title fight during an appearance on the Brazilian television show Bem, Amigos! (there’s that "friend" word again) earlier this week. “Whenever I’m with [Jones], I ask him to conduct his career in a different way, because he is very young and is always asking me something. But I’ll be rooting for Brazil, yes. May the best man win, but I’m rooting for Brazil.”

That comment, the translation of which I took from a Sherdog.com story, represents the tiniest glimmer of hope for those fans who’ve all but given up on their dream of a Jones vs. Silva summit meeting. This whole friendship excuse the fighters have used to fend off superfight talk has always seemed pretty flimsy. I mean, Jon and Anderson are not the Diaz brothers, bonded by blood. They’re not even training partners, like top-ranked lightweights Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez. Silva and Jones simply like each other.

Aw, that’s sweet, amigos. So touch gloves before you fight and hug afterward.

“To be dead honest, it’s -- we both have a lot to lose,” was Jones’ response when asked about the possibility a Silva fight during an interview on ESPN Radio back in July. “And we both respect each other a lot and we are both striving for personal greatness. I don’t want to crap on his greatness; I don’t want him crapping on my greatness.”

Jones needs to ask himself two things. First, wouldn’t Silva rooting for him to lose on Sept. 22 qualify as “him crapping on [your] greatness”? And second, is there a better way to get back in the good graces of spurned UFC president Dana White and the MMA fanbase than by calling out Anderson Silva?

Not trying to start something but, well, maybe I am.

--Jeff Wagenheim

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