If the middleweight champ only has four fights left, who will he face?
Anderson Silva has dominated the sport in a fashion no other fighter has yet to match, or may ever be able to match for that matter.
“The Spider” has ruled the UFC middleweight division without dispute for over 5 years, breaking numerous records along the way to being known as the greatest fighter in UFC history.
While Silva’s reign as the pound-for-pound king has provided endless highlights, the clock on his career is ticking. At 36-years-old, Silva is in the final stages of his storied career, and if manager Ed Soares is correct, there are only four fights left until the middleweight king abdicates his throne.
If this is true and Silva has only a handful of appearances left inside of the Octagon, the final steps for the champion are uncertain. Once swept clean of contenders, the middleweight division has experienced a resurgence, with fresh competition starting to fill the ranks. In addition to the opponents within his own division, Silva’s name seems to always be linked to the latest superfight being discussed as well.
There are several intriguing options that remain for the most dominant champion in UFC history. Heavy MMA takes a look at what could be sitting on the horizon for Anderson Silva and the fighters who could be called to fill those final four positions.
Like no other fighter before him, “The Gangster from West Linn” was able to get through Silva’s striking, and not only put him on his back, but punish him as well. Sonnen was just south of two minutes away from taking Silva’s title before he was caught in a triangle choke that ended the fight.
A couple different scandals put his career in jeopardy, but fortunately for the middleweight division and UFC fans everywhere, Sonnen is back, his sights set solely on a rematch with Silva. He looked fantastic in his two-round routing of Brian Stann, making the former Marine look like he had no business being in the same cage.
Never one to miss an opportunity to say a few words, Sonnen used his post-fight speech to ratchet up further interest in a rematch, telling Silva he sucks and challenging him to a rematch.
The decision to make the fight is a lay-up for the UFC brass, though the situation could have a wrinkle: Silva’s management has said Sonnen has already had his chance and needs to go to the back of the line. We don’t see that being a problem; expect the rematch to be the next time you Silva in the Octagon.
Michael Bisping or Jason “Mayhem” Miller
Outside of Sonnen, there are limited options already in place for Silva within the middleweight division. Challengers are emerging, but none seems quite ready to stand opposite Silva just yet.
If the “Loser Leaves Town” match doesn’t materialize, the next-best-thing could come from the December meeting between Bisping and Miller. The coaches on the current season of “The Ultimate Fighter” could be battling for more than bragging rights; the victor could be presented with a title shot.
After claiming the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship and seeing his contract expire, Henderson has made his way back to the UFC.
He will return to action in the 205-pound division, facing former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139. While his first fight back inside the Octagon will come at light heavyweight, Henderson has made it known he would like another shot at Silva, the two having first battled at UFC 82. Despite a strong opening round, Henderson eventually succumbed to a rear-naked choke late in the second frame.
While fighting at middleweight has been a staple of Henderson’s career, the 41-year-old former Olympian has made no bones about his lack of enthusiasm for making the weight cut. There is only one fight that will lure him back down to 185 pounds, and that’s a rematch with Silva.
The anticipation for this fight reached a fever pitch heading into UFC 129, cooled for a number of months, and became a hot topic again recently.
With Silva’s dominance in his division and St-Pierre doing the same at welterweight, a champion vs. champion bout makes considerable sense. Dana White has openly discussed the possibility of the bout in the past, and continues to do so in the wake of Silva’s most recent victory as well.
Size is still an obstacle to overcome as St-Pierre has stated his desire to have time to properly adjust to a bigger weight class. In addition to the weight difference between the two, the resurgence of activity in their respective divisions keeps this fight as nothing more than a fantasy, at least for now.
While the potential match-up between Silva and St-Pierre was the first to make noise, the call for a bout between Silva and the gifted light heavyweight champion grows louder by the day.
In the wake of Jones’ meteoric rise to the top of the sport, the question of who is more dominant has been debated during many roundtable discussions. Unlike GSP, Silva and Jones are comparable in the size department, and with both men owning unpredictable and punishing styles, this fight seems to carry the most bang for the UFC’s buck.
The two biggest obstacles standing in the way of this bout come in the form of a cluster of light heavyweight contenders and the age difference between the two fighters. Silva is 13 years Jones’ senior, and with Dana White already pouring water on the fire for this bout, pointing to the list of contenders already awaiting Jones, the possibility of this bout coming together doesn’t look good.
Still, White has always said he wants to give the fans what they want, and as Jones and Silva continue to lay waste to the opponents lined up opposite them, and meeting between the two might not remain a fantasy forever.