Today, I saw a short-lived node that posed and attempted to answer this question, "If Link and Cloud Strife were to duke it out mano a mano, who would win?" I warn you now, this writeup will be gloriously nerdy.
Who's fighting whom?
There's actually a lot to consider here before the question can be answered. Which Link are we talking about? There are quite a few. He's appeared in numerous games spanning Nintendo's sizable fleet of consoles. Is Cloud fighting Ocarina of Time's adult Link? Wind Waker's child Link, TV's Link who features an extremely unfortunate hair style and grating voice? What about all the Links? That's certainly not a fair fight. For the purposes of this hypothetical super-fight spectacular extravaganza, we will pit Final Fantasy VII's Cloud Strife against the original Link.
What weapons are they using?
Let us imagine, because it will make for a more fabulous event, that each combatant is at his prime. He's got the best weapons available to him in the game from which he hails.
This means that Cloud is wielding his Ultima Weapon sword and has decided to wear no armor in the spirit of making this a fair fight (Link has no armor available to him, and I don't remember what Cloud's best armor is). This sword features eight materia slots in four linked pairs, and the damage done is proportional to Cloud's remaining vitality. Cloud has chosen the following materia, in linked pairs. [Knights of Round]-[HP Absorb], [Counter]-[Mime], [Regen]-[Haste], and [W-Magic]-[Cure3].
Link has quite an arsenal at his disposal. He has a magic sword, a magic boomerang, a bow with a quiver of silver arrows, and a satchel full of bombs. Deftly exploiting Cloud's decision not to wear armor, Link still has access to his Red Ring, which decreases his damage by half. He was quoted as saying, "It's not armor! It's magic jewelery!" Touché, Link. Touché. In the off chance there is water on the battlefield, he also has access to a stepladder and a raft.
Let's get ready to RUMBLE!!
We could pretend that my nerdy setup was important, and that I didn't do it just to impress you with my useless knowledge of popular video games, but we don't need to. Even if we give Link the benefit of the doubt and say he was able to shoot Cloud with a silver arrow from a distance, Cloud will have also shot Link with a silver arrow due to his [Counter]-[Mime] materia combo. At this point, Cloud casts Knights of Round and kills Link all while regenerating 10% of the damage inflicted because of his [Knights of Round]-[HP Absorb] materia combo. Link's only hope is to kill Cloud in one shot, and he just doesn't have the equipment for it.
I told you this was going to be nerdy. In all seriousness though, Link never stood a chance. The game types are just too different. The Legend of Zelda games are designed to be challenging all the way through. RPGs are designed to allow you to turn your characters into demigods. It doesn't matter how whiny that demigod is, he can kick a fairy's ass any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
RoguePoet has an interesting take on this topic and says Link would *so* kick Cloud's ass in a brawl. Cloud's a turn-based fighter. Link fights in real-time. That's the video game equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight, and therefore Cloud would be down faster than you can say "lens flare" ;-)
OberonDarksoul rebuts RoguePoet neglects to mention that Cloud appeared in a real-time beat 'em up, Ehrgeiz, so he could still fight on Link's own terms. Outnerded!
mkb outnerds me by remiding us the original Link doesn't have armor, but he has the damage-reducing red ring, silly.