UFC President Dana White has made it clear (possibly a bit too clear, too soon, but that's just from the business aspect) that something needs to be done about the embarrassing display by Anderson Silva at yesterday's UFC 112, during the 25 minute "fight" that he won over middleweight challenger Demian Maia, while defending his title.
Has anybody stopped to consider what that is going to mean? Will it mean that Anderson Silva will get set up in some sort of tougher fight? Will he be pushed out of the UFC? Maybe sent to sit in the corner for a time out.
There are some options being thrown around, that will most likely be at the top of the list.
One of these that has been mentioned already is either making Silva's fights un-televised, or at least making him the first champion to have his fight during prelims. This would mean that Silva's future opponents would also being penalized in a way, by having their title shot be downplayed. It wouldn't be anywhere near a perfect solution.
Another option is letting Anderson Silva ride out the rest of his contract, and then cut his ties with the UFC. This is probably even less likely. The only way this will happen is if Anderson Silva retires. He did speak about retiring in 2008, and it was rumored he would retire after his contract expires. Silva also has said that he isn't retiring until he gets the "biggest fight possible", no matter what weight class it is. The bottom line is, if Silva isn't retiring any time soon, there's not much of a chance that Dana White won't renew his contract, and let him slip away to Strikeforce or one of the other big named leagues. It's not smart business, and after all, Dana White is quite the business man.
The worst of the options I've heard so far is not "giving him" the fight against George St. Pierre that he wants, and that Joe Rogan stated during April 10th event may happen, after Silva's win. At this point, in order to use this in his favor, Dana White's best option is to pit Silva against an opponent that a majority of fans believe has even the slightest chance of beating him. Silva has turned himself into more of a spectacle than even Tito Ortiz could have ever wished to become. He is now disliked (to put it lightly) by many of the UFC fans around the world. Negative publicity is STILL publicity. Yes, it's true that nobody wants to pay to see Anderson Silva's interpretation of Dancing With The Stars, but, now more than ever, people will pay to see somebody beat Anderson Silva.
There aren't many legitimate possibilities out there right now:
Vitor Belfort (19-8)
Vitor's up there in the rankings in the Middleweight division of the UFC, and after his win against Rich Franklin this past September, was supposed to be the man in the ring against Silva at UFC 112. He had to pull out, after undergoing shoulder surgery, but who really thinks that Belfort is the man who is going to beat Silva? Can you hear the crickets?
Chael Sonnen (25-10)
Coming off of his win against Nate Marquardt, and due to Belfort's injury, he is quite possibly the next in line for a shot against the Middleweight champion. His last loss came at the hands of Demian Maia, by submission last February. Since then, he's defeated Dan Miller, Yushin Okami, and Nate Marquardt back to back. Can he beat Silva? Maybe. Not enough to cause for an alarm, and make fans flock to their televisions and wallets to see it happen, that's for sure.
George St. Pierre (20-2)
April 7, 2007. Oct. 22, 2004. Do those dates ring a bell? Oh, right, the only two times that anybody has been able to beat GSP. Matt Serra (10-6) who GSP went on to defeat almost a year to the day after his loss, and Matt Hughes (44-7) who he has beaten twice since. If there is anybody who is skilled enough, smart enough, well liked enough, and tough enough to beat Anderson SIlva, there is no doubt in anyone's mind that George St. Pierre is that man. That's not to say that it is a given that GSP would win. Anderson Silva is still among the top competitors in the world, regardless of his ethics.
If this fight were to happen, and GSP didn't stop Silva, then I believe Dana White will have to go back to the drawing board and find a new way to punish Silva... or admit defeat. Dana White 0-2, Anderson Silva 2-0.
Silva wants the fight, GSP has already welcomed Silva to drop down to 170 and step into the octagon, Dana White wants to "make it up to the fans" and the fans want to see a fight that Anderson Silva can lose. Do the math. One Anderson Silva plus one George St. Pierre equals one of the biggest fights in UFC history, and a way to still be able to sell an Anderson Silva fight.
While Dana White still has plenty of time to first wrap his head around what happened at UFC 112, and figure out a solution to his problem, GSP Vs. Anderson Silva has to happen, and I believe that come Aug. 28, 2010, this fight will happen.
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