Antonio Silva's emphatic knockout win over Alistair Overeem at UFC 156 has placed the heavyweight division in an awkward spot. The conventional thinking was that Overeem would roll through Silva and earn a shot at Cain Velasquez's heavyweight title with the winner of that fight facing Junior dos Santos in what would be a rubber match against Cain or a grudge match against dos Santos.
But Bigfoot's win ruined those plans and left some major questions about where the UFC goes from here. The prospect of Silva challenging for the title isn't entirely appealing since Velasquez dominated him last May.
For his part, Bigfoot says that he wants the rematch (via MMA Junkie):
"I am highly interested in facing Cain Velasquez again," he said. "He's a great champion. He's a great person – very humble. When we first faced off, I didn't get much of a chance to fight. He had the right strategy. He has a great team guiding him. His strategy worked. My forehead was cut open few seconds into the fight. I was struggling to try to see. I wasn't having any success. So I was left knowing I could have done better. I have nothing personal against Velasquez."
"I am a UFC employee, so I don't choose my opponents," Silva said. "My job is to train, stay healthy physically and mentally, and show my best in the cage. If I could choose, I would pick Cain. But it's up to the UFC to pick my opponent. I'll do whatever my boss decides. And of course, every fighter has to travel a certain gauntlet of opponents and write his own history. That's how Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez did it.
"So if I must face others, I simply ask that I get to face the best opponents."
If he hasn't earned a rematch with the champion, he has certainly at least earned the right to ask for the best opponents possible.
For his part, Silva's manager, Alex Davis, would like to see a few more fights before his man gets his rematch with the champion. As he explained to MMA Fighting:
"Personally, I'd rather have him get some other fights before he fights Cain," Davis said via email. "But it's up to the UFC, if they want him to go for the title, we cannot say no, either. But all is up in the air at the moment."
Davis, though, is not so sure it's the right move, though he concedes that Silva -- who he affectionately calls "Junior" -- and the UFC will ultimately have the final call.
"Junior does not pick opponents," he said. "That has been his attitude forever. Personally, I like [Josh] Barnett, I like [Stefan] Struve. I think that Junior can beat any heavyweight in the world on a good day. If it's a rematch with Cain that's on the horizon, we are game also. The first fight with Cain, Junior made a small mistake in the beginning with that kick, I think [if it] was not for that, would have been a different fight altogether, so we are open to whatever the UFC wants for him."