Going into UFC on FX 7: Belfort vs. Bisping fans knew that Michael Bisping had been promised a title shot with a win. Vitor Belfort's brutal dismantling of Bisping put shut to that idea. As for Belfort, memories of his UFC 126 one-kick KO loss to Anderson Silva are too fresh in the minds of fans & UFC brass for him to get another title shot. At least that's what Tatame reporter Guilherme Cruz heard from UFC VP Marshall Zelaznik:
Per Marshall: Vitor needs more wins to get another shot at Anderson after the way he lost the first fight— Guilherme Cruz (@guicruzzz) January 20, 2013
With the UFC apparently foiled in their attempts to book a super-fight between Anderson Silva and Welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre and/or Light Heavyweight champ Jon Jones that leaves a distinct paucity of lucrative possibilities for the UFC's best fighter.
Sure Strikeforce Middleweight champ Luke Rockhold is out there asking for an immediate title shot. Sure Chris Weidman, the man ranked #2 in the division in the December Bloody Elbow Meta-Rankings is out there calling for his turn. But the reality is, neither of those fighters has succeeded in raising their profile enough with fans to be a compelling draw as an opponent for Silva.
I am going to tell you what the UFC should do, not because it is the right thing, but because it is the only thing now that Bisping is out of the running as Silva's next opponent. They should pair him off with Rashad Evans.
Admittedly, there are a few issues with this plan. For one, Evans has a fight scheduled with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC 156. For another, Evans is not a middleweight and has never competed a single time in the division.
A Silva vs. Evans fight would certainly intrigue the masses. According to White, Evans is one of the promotion's top five pay-per-view draws, and he's one of only a handful of mixed martial artists in history to headline two events that sold over 1 million pay-per-view buys. His star power combined with Silva's resume would almost certainly equal a box-office bonanza.
There are purists who will dislike the idea because Evans has never competed as a middleweight. There are fans of middleweight contenders who will despise it because it means a longer wait. But we don't live in a fantasy land; we live in the real world where Silva has some real sway in his future, and he's not fighting anyone he doesn't want to fight. In the end, the fight's the thing, and Evans is a championship caliber athlete who can offer Silva some serious stylistic challenges.
I have to concur with Mike. The fight I'd most like to see is Anderson Silva vs. Jon Jones but Silva doesn't appear interested in that fight -- not coincidentally he'd be the underdog in the fight for a number of reasons including size, age, reach and style -- so let's see what Rashad Evans can do as a MW. Not that it's a given that Rashad gets past Little Nog, but I'd say his chances in that fight are good.
It's much more intriguing to imagine what an excellent wrestler like Evans could do against Silva. He's even better at combining strikes with take down attempts than Chael Sonnen and although he's a small Light Heavyweight, as a Middleweight he will be fairly massive.
Book it Dana!