Seething: that's how she put it. My good lady was seething after watching the UFC 117 post-fight presser, hearing Dana White say that Anderson Silva's ability to turn the tables in the last two minutes was "the stuff that makes legends"... making a statement that, on the face of it, flew contra to his willingness to consider rematching Sonnen against the man whom had just clearly beaten him.
How could you declare a fight to be legendary and yet be willing to tarnish that legend with an immediate re-run? It's a situation almost unheard of in other sports: "You don't see a world cup soccer match being replayed because the winning goal was scored in the 89th minute - the result stands. I know it wouldn't be the same fight, but I don't want to see that **** again", she said.
The logic was unassailable.
Of course with the news that Silva is reportedly out of the picture until February or March of 2011, the possibility of an immediate rematch seems to have gone out of the window... at least, not within the sort of time frame that would allow Zuffa to capitalise on the trending that 117 seems to have done. Not so good for the UFC's profits, but potentially better for the middleweight division.
Allow me to expand: should Silva's forced hiatus is confirmed, that means we'll almost certainly see more urgency in the MW ranks to establish clear #1 and #2 contenders. I personally fail to see how Sonnen - having been caught in a submission - could legitimately be granted an immediate rematch.
Let's look at a how the division is currently arrayed
- Nate Marquardt is taking on Rousimar Palhares: Marquadt last lost to Sonnen
- Demain Maia is taking on Mario Miranda: Maia last lost to Silva
- Belfort is awaiting an opponent and has not fought either Silva or Sonnen
- Yushin Okami is coming of a win, but lost to Sonnen late last year.
- Chris Leben still needs to get another win before being in the mix - next fight: Wanderlei Silva
- Alan Belcher is out post-surgery and might not fight again
- Michael Bisping is facing Yoshihiro Akiyama as part of his road back to title contention
If the UFC wants to capitalise on the current popularity of Chael Sonnen, they could do worse than book him against Vitor Belfort for the #1 contender shot. This will also allow the UFC to expand on Belfort's success against Rich Franklin
As for Okami - he could face off against Marquardt or Maia, assuming they get through their respective fights intact. Winning against either of those opponents puts him cleanly in the #2 contender spot... and the same could be said for whomever he takes on should they win.
Belfort has been on tap for UFC 122 since his recovery. The expectations that he'd be facing the winner of Sonnen / Silva at this event has been constant - so keep him on this card and give him Sonnen.
Given that Belfort was originally meant to clash with Silva back at UFC 112 gives added weight to the logic of their fight for #1 contender status. With fourteen weeks to go till November 13, that would allow Sonnen a recuperation period before getting back into a training camp.
Should Anderson's recovery go to schedule, he could be booked to fight the winner at the Superbowl weekend show (either 29 January or 12 February)... allowing for those massive PPV numbers that Zuffa loves. It'll be interesting to see how the next few months play out.