We've all heard talk about Anderson Silva's ticking career clock over the past few years. At various times there has been talk that he plans on fighting three more times, five more times, one more year, two more years..etc. Regardless of how many fights he actually has left, for once we have an actual blueprint for how the next 12-16 months of Silva's career should progress. And it all feeds into his desire for "big fights only."
Mind you, I'm a believer in the "big fight" over the "sporting choice." Which tends to not sit well with people because people like to pretend that business doesn't matter. Which is wrong, especially in a PPV driven sport.
Chris Weidman may be the man of the moment, having ripped through Mark Munoz with ease, but he did that on a show that hardly anyone saw. A Silva vs. Weidman fight is a fight being sold on Silva's name alone, it's just not time yet. And, let's be honest, that GSP fight isn't going to happen now that there's a ton of new challengers at 170, a division that renewed itself in St. Pierre's absence.
Here's the plan that seems incredibly obvious to me:
Fight #1 - Anderson Silva versus Winner of Michael Bisping vs. Brian Stann - Late 2012
Every time Bisping is mentioned, someone has to do the "who has he beat?" Rather than go through and explain the value of any individual win, the answer is "a lot of people and those fights were seen by a lot of people. The UFC has invested a lot into turning Bisping into a star since his time on The Ultimate Fighter and they've succeeded. 3.4 million people tuned in to watch Bisping fight Jason Miller, there aren't a lot of guys on the roster who turn out numbers like that, especially on a Spike level network.
If Stann wins, he's been exciting since dropping to middleweight and has a fantastic story to tell. He wouldn't sell quite as well as Bisping, but he'd still be a good B-Side to the fight.
Yeah, both guys lost to Chael Sonnen (although I'm with Dana White in the "Bisping beat Sonnen" camp), but who cares? Bisping vs. Silva would be one of the UFC's top selling PPV's of the year, possibly of all time with a good build-up and undercard.
Will Silva beat either guy? Absolutely! Probably with ease. And that's not really a bad thing.
Fight #2 - Anderson Silva versus Nick Diaz - Early 2013
Diaz's suspension is not going to be reduced, it's not going to be lifted, he's just going to have to ride it out.
But, his calling out of Silva was gold for the UFC. Silva wants big fights and Nick Diaz is a big fight. Once Silva gets by Bisping or Stann, the UFC should match him up with Diaz.
Who cares that Diaz lost his last fight via a controversial decision to Carlos Condit? Who cares that he served a 12 month suspension following the fight? He's going to help make the UFC and Silva a lot of money.
Since Diaz isn't going to be able to fight until February, I'd have him in front of a microphone at every opportunity talking about Silva. He's not known for his willingness to hold back, so let him build the fight for months ahead of it ever even being booked.
Fight #3 - Anderson Silva versus Chris Weidman - Mid-to-Late 2013
Weidman has a whole year to be built up in big fights that people can actually see. Weidman should never fight on Fuel again. Put him on Fox, put him in the co-main event of the other two Silva fights. Make it known that this is a "collision course" situation.
If Weidman loses to someone in the meantime, oh well. You wouldn't be losing a huge fight. Again, Silva versus Weidman is not a big fight right now. He has to win some fights that people see. Let that happen.
This gets Anderson through a year or more with three fights, two of which would be huge and the third could be should Weidman and the UFC do their part.