Ed Soares has recently suggested that Anderson Silva could potentially take a fight at 205 after his fight with Thales Leites at UFC 97 on April 18th. I say Anderson’s window to play around in the Light Heavyweight division has closed.
Anderson’s story over the last year has been a tale of two minds. After suggesting in early 2008 that he was near the end of his fighting career, Silva notified Dana White that he would like to begin fighting with increasing regularity. This lead to two fights in the span of three months; his bloody and brutal KO of James Irvin last July at UFN 14 and the peculiar bout with Cote only three months later at UFC 90. Disappointed in his performance with Cote, Silva was said to have refused several proposed fights from UFC matchmaker Joe Silva in the following months. Soares alleges that Silva has been in the gym every day since the Cote fight, determined to make an example of his next opponent. That unfortunate individual is one Mr. Thales Leites.
I’m prepared to assume, for the sake of this conversation, that Anderson Silva disposes of Leites in convincing fashion. It’s arguable, but let’s save that for another time. James Irvin, Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, while all talented in their own right, are not exactly the group of fighters I’d like to squander Anderson Silva’s remaining fights on (however many that is). And after UFC 95, I’d insist the Spider has too much work to do to consider taking any fights at 205.
The question is; with Anderson taking a fight every three months, how does the 185 division shake out? The five most qualified individuals to face Anderson Silva in this calendar year are as follows;
Yushin "Thunder" Okami
In my mind, Okami is undervalued, immensely talented, and has been due a title shot for some time. This whole scenario would be much easier to sort out if it were Okami, rather than Leites, facing Silva in April (with Leites facing one of the two victorious contenders of 95— preferably a rematch with Nate).
Nate "The Great" Marquardt
Second to him is Marquardt, who has vastly improved since losing to Silva at UFC 73. His well rounded abilities and newly aggressive striking abilities could make him the most qualified contender. Though, that very aggression could also be the death of him in another fight with Silva.
Demian Maia is next. It could be argued that he deserves a shot above Marquardt. For my money, while his BJJ was as impressive as ever in submitting Chael Sonnen last night at UFC 95, he also exposed the sloppiness of his underdeveloped stand up. Maia continually approached Sonnen with his chin exposed and ate a number of inside jabs early on. One has to deduce that a striker the likes of Anderson Silva wouldn’t let that fly lay idly in his web for long.
Dan "Hollywood" Henderson & Michael "The Count" Bisping
Fourth and fifth are the two coaches of the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter; Henderson and Bisping. These two are scheduled to face one another at UFC 100 in July. The victor of this match up would eliminate his opposition from this conversation (for the short term) and perhaps make the case for a quick title shot (with their present marketability being much greater than the other available options).
Does the UFC run the risk of spoiling a top contender in having Maia and Marquardt face one another? If so, what are the alternatives? Who could each man fight, to bide their time, that could still pose some amount of risk and credibility? Should the winner of the Hendo vs Bisping showdown be awarded a shot at The Ultimate? In any scenario, this complicated matter would be made much simpler should Silva decide to fight more often, much as he suggested last year. And I, for one, am thrilled to see so many legitimate options at 185 finally presenting themselves.
I also just came across a poll on this very matter, created by BE user klown, located here.