Silva saw blood and went for it
Date: 2012-07-08 00:00:00
Submitted By: Come Get You Some
Anderson Silva isn’t even 48 hours removed from once again turning back the challenge of Chael Sonnen and we’re already starting to map out who gets the next shot at the throne. Much like the welterweight division has experienced a replenishing of contenders over the last year, so too has middleweight, where no fewer than four men could be considered a win away from a title shot, while a couple more need one more good victory to get the nod. There’s also one other gentleman who should be under consideration, but for the time being, he’s got another fight to worry about. Let’s break it down, shall we? * * * * * * * * Jon Jones In an MMA Utopia, the UFC light heavyweight champion defeats Dan Henderson, and then agrees to a monster fight with Silva sometime in early 2013 at a massive venue like, I dunno, say Cowboys Stadium? I know both Silva and Jones have balked at the notion of fighting one another, suggesting they’d rather train together and learn from each other than fight, but it’s such a compelling match-up; arguably the last truly compelling, “This guy has the tools to beat Anderson” fight that exists out there for casual fans. Although it’s been said many times before, this would be the biggest fight in UFC history, as you’d have the best fighter in the history of the sport taking on the one fighter you could see possibly challenging some of his incredible records. I’d like to see Jones’ length against Silva, and his wrestling background and creativity in the cage, while Silva might be the only guy left with the skill set to test Jones as well. This would be absolutely bonkers, and you can bet that if Jones gets through Henderson on September 1, Dana White will put the full court press on to see if he can’t get this match made. Mark Munoz/Chris Weidman Winner These two meet on Wednesday night in the main event of the fourth FUEL TV card. Yes, there are more fights on Wednesday night. I don’t know how anyone can try and argue against over-saturation at this point, especially not with another show on Saturday (Strikeforce) and then another pay-per-view the weekend after that in Calgary. It’s crazy… and I love it. Munoz carries a four-fight winning streak into this one, and would make a lot of sense as a challenger if he comes away with the win. He hold victories over Demian Maia and Chris Leben, would be the first to defeat Weidman, and his only loss in the middleweight division came to former title challenger Yushin Okami. One potential hold-up — and I have no idea if it would be a hold-up — is that Munoz has a working relationship with Silva. He’s spent some time working with “The Spider” in the past, and facing off with a friend may not be something he’s down for. That being said, he fought his friend Aaron Simpson, and this would be for the world title (and a gang of money), so I think we’re probably good on that front. As for Weidman, the logic is simple and two-pronged for me: 1) If you’re going to argue Munoz gets a shot with a win, you’d have to consider Weidman the front-runner if he beats the guy who was the front-runner heading into the fight, no? 2) While he might not be a big enough name at this point, there is no reason to me to risk his unbeaten record against another top contender. If he’s going to lose, let him lose to the best fighter in the world; at least then he maintains his momentum since you can’t really fault anyone for losing to Anderson Silva at this point. Additionally, I like either one of these guys as interesting challengers to the dominant champion at this point. We’ve seen that wrestling is the weakest part of Silva’s game, and both guys have very good wrestling credentials. They each have a distinct skill set on the ground that is more advanced that what Chael Sonnen brought to the table as well. Munoz has some of the nastiest ground-and-pound in the game — he calls it Donkey Kong style — and Weidman has a very good submission game. Not that I’m saying either would have an easy time with Silva, but I would certainly be interested to see how things played out on the ground between the champion and either one of these potential challengers next. Tim Boestch/Hector Lombard Winner The UFC 149 co-main event could potentially product the next title challenger as well, depending on how things play out. Dana White has discussed the possibility of Lombard, the former Bellator middleweight champion, getting fast-tracked to a title shot if he gets a quality win in his UFC debut. Now, he said that when the Cuban-born judoka with vicious stand-up was set to face Brian Stann, but you would have to think Boetsch is a little further ahead in the pecking order than Stann at this point, so the potential should still be there. On the flip side of things, Boetsch is coming off a great comeback win over Yushin Okami, is unbeaten since moving down to middleweight (3-0) and if he were able to notch a victory over Lombard in Calgary, he’d be the first man to have his hand raised opposite the former Olympian in almost six years. Additionally, the “if the other guy is going to get a shot if he wins” argument could apply as well. Lombard makes more sense to me at this point than Boetsch, simply because he’s (1) a bit bigger name, though that’s could just be my perception, (2) his skill set is more threatening, at least on paper, and (3) you can package the fight much, much easier if you’re pairing Silva with Lombard, rather than with Boetsch. None of that is fair to “The Barbarian,” who has put in his time, worked his way up the ladder, and would very much be worthy of consideration with a win, but fairness doesn’t factor into it. Michael Bisping The boisterous Brit wants a title shot, feels he could do better than Chael Sonnen did on Saturday night, and would be the biggest possible name to pair with Silva at this point, outside of Jon Jones, of course. That being said, he’s coming off a loss to Sonnen in January, and should have to get back into the win column before getting a chance to challenge for the title, especially considering there will be at least two fighters on winning streaks in line ahead of him. Now, if the winners of the two fights above have only average performances, and Bisping can go out and get a quality win over someone like Alan Belcher or Brian Stann — both of whom he’s been lobbying to fight of late — he could scoot passed those two fighters to the front of the line, especially if he wins impressively. His popularity/name value is the biggest feather in his cap right now, which should push Bisping to find the opponent best suited for him, and work his ass off to ensure he gets a win next time out. If he does, he just might get that title shot he’s been saying he deserves for the last couple of years. Alan Belcher/Brian Stann One of these two is likely going to fight Michael Bisping next, and a win there could move them into the conversation as well. Stann is the bigger name of the two, but has less momentum right now than Belcher. While his win over Alessio Sakara was solid, it was only last October that he was submitted by Chael Sonnen. Meanwhile, Belcher is coming off an impressive first-round finish of Rousimar Palhares on Fox, and has won four straight going back to his close split decision loss to Yoshihiro Akiyama at UFC 100. A win over Stann pushing his run to five-in-a-row coupled with the right bounces in the other bouts could put “The Talent” in the challengers slot opposite Silva in the future. I’d be really interested to see either man opposite Silva if they’re able to get there. Stann has the kind of power than can change a fight in a heartbeat, and Belcher is one of the more underrated guys in the sport in my opinion. He’s very smooth on the ground, has excellent stand-up, and — this might be the most important thing of all — unwavering confidence. He’s been calling for a shot against Silva for years now, and you need that kind of “I belong in here with this guy” mindset when facing an icon.