Anderson Silva: Who’s Next?

I had made a gentlemen’s bet on UFC 153’s main event with a friend of mine. “Bonnar won’t make it out of the first round,” he said.   Based on Bonnar’s chin, size advantage and jiu-jitsu, I had confidence in Bonnar to at least make it out of the first round.  “I think he’ll lose, sure, but I think he’ll make it to at least the second round before he gets knocked out,” I said in reply.

…in related news, I hate losing a bet, even one without any money on the line.

Anderson Silva is the pound-for-pound best fighter in mixed martial arts, having left sixteen bodies in his wake without a loss since joining the UFC in 2006.  Okay, that might be a bit of hyperbole if “leaving bodies in his wake” means he finished everyone he’s faced in the company.  If we’re going by those standards, he’s left thirteen in his wake, one was spared due to a fluke injury and the other two were treated to a well-improvised clowning/dancing clinic.

THE POINT IS he’s undefeated and has become very vocal about who his next opponents should and should not be.

As our own Lee McGregor alluded to at the end of his always thorough and insightful UFC 153 wrap up, Silva’s next opponent is somewhat already determined, but playing wheelchair matchmaker is a fun game we MMA fans love to play so let’s boogie, shall we?

The “Price Better Be So Right That I Relent” Option

Chris Weidman is a good fighter.  He’s a big guy with good wrestling credentials and is undefeated at 9-0.  In the eyes of the Champ, however, he is too green to be worth risking the streak and the ol’ piggy bank.  Weidman will take on a surging Tim Boetsch in December to help increase his stock, but unless he enrolls in the “Chael Sonnen School of S*** Talk” and graduates with honors really quickly, I don’t foresee this fight happening for another year or more until he pads his resume to Silva’s liking.  Yes, I understand the UFC can undoubtedly make Silva an offer he can’t refuse if they want this fight to happen, but there are more intriguing prospects out there before Strong Island’s own gets a crack at The Spider.

The “Cash Across The Pond” Option

Oh, bloody hell.  I’ll admit it. I want to hate Michael Bisping, but the bloke has grown on me.  He may not be magnificent at any one particular discipline, but this is mixed martial arts.  The Count has become not only well rounded in the Octagon, but his brash personality and wit on camera and on the interwebs has gone past obnoxious to the point of being funny and even charming.   He is clearly the golden boy of the U.K. and a title fight in England, while still one that I think Silva wins handily, would be a fight Bisping could sell the heck out of and would make our British brethren very happy to be hosting a big name title fight.  If Silva’s potential next opponent (which we’ll get to in just a minute) is injured, I think this would be worth his while given the continued exposure and big money involved.

The “Dream Fight” Option

Let’s get this one over with: Jon Jones.  Both he and Silva have publicly stated they have no desire to fight one another.  However, this would be pay-per-view gold, my friends.  I’m open to differing analogies, but for sports fans who only dabble in watching MMA, this would be like watching a still-dominant-though-heading-toward-the-end-of-his-career Michael Jordan against Lebron James in Game 7 of the NBA Championship.

Given how prize fighting is structured (one-on-one competitions among differing weight classes) it is harder to determine who is truly best in the world.  I understand that there is a degree of subjectivity to “rankings” in this sport and, unlike conventional team sports where there are playoff systems and elimination rounds to determine a league champion, the best in any MMA weight class may not necessarily be declared the best in that league by the system at large.

When you have the consensus #1 and #2 fighters within reasonable weight and size limits of one another in the biggest promotion in the world, however, shouldn’t they duke it out to find out who really is THE best?  I have no doubt if the fans want it, Dana & Co. will make it happen come hell or high water, but I think we’ll have to wait just a little bit longer for it.  As the old saying goes, “good things come to those who wait (unless you’re Rashad Evans).”

The “Most Likely To Happen Next” Option

Georges St-Pierre, despite the long layoff, is still one of the best fighters in mixed martial arts and will go down in history as perhaps the greatest welterweight of all time.  The idea of GSP vs. Silva in a whatever-weight bout seemed to be the “Dream Fight” before GSP’s injury and Jon Jone’s meteoric rise over the past year and a half.  Is GSP vs. Silva still a fight that people want to see that’d do “boy band” numbers on PPV? Absolutely.  Has it fizzled a bit for the reasons I just described? Perhaps.  Silva has stated that he wants GSP next even if GSP loses his title unification bout with Carlos Condit on November 17th, but I do believe that if GSP rolls through Condit in impressive fashion, GSP vs. Silva earns back some of that sizzle and, barring injury, would make for an incredible spring event in 2013.

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