I'll preface this by saying I completely assume Anderson Silva will, indeed, face Chris Weidman in a rematch for the UFC middleweight title. Come away with me now down a rabbit hole of hypotheticals and questions. Someone else will be along shortly to better broach the subject, but for now, courage.
For those of us who picked Weidman we've had a few days to ponder how UFC 162 could affect possible superfights featuring Anderson Silva. While I think most fans have moved on from a GSP-Anderson bout, nearly everyone seemed set on seeing UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones square off with Silva.
Now, after seeing Silva falter for the first time in years, fans and Dana White alike seem to think those options are off the table. But why? What about last night makes you not want to see Silva fight Jones? Did Weidman's performance make you think Silva wouldn't have a chance against Bones? Did Silva need to hold a belt to face someone else in an exhibition match?
What better way to reinvigorate Silva than to give him a real challenge in the form of a light heavyweight bout with Jones? Look what the UFC did with a disposed Frankie Edgar. How do you sell a former champ? Put him in a supefight. Don't forget, many fans had long clamored to see Edgar vs. Aldo, even at lightweight. It just so happened to take place at 145lbs with Aldo defending his title.
A move up in weight class is always interesting and Silva has done nothing but dominate at 205lbs. While guys like Griffin and Bonnar are certainly not Jones, Silva has proven he can not only hang, but comfortably compete at the weight class. It's clear from interviews pre and post fight that Silva may not longer be interested in defending the UFC middleweight strap. If Silva really wants new challenges the UFC needs to accomodate that. If he wants to fight Roy Jones Jr., Zuffa needs to figure out how to be in the middle of that.
For the sake of the UFC, dethroned champions need to be put in fights people care about. Zuffa has untold millions invested in Silva over the years and can't afford for him to simply slink away now. Major brands like Nike, Under Armour and Gatorade aren't kicking the tires on MMA if not for Silva. The man has done more to grow the sport than anyone. You think Usher looks this bad after a GSP loss?
Silva not holding the 185lbs strap doesn't take any luster off a superfight with Jones, at least not for me. Reverse the situation and imagine Jones dropping his title to say, maybe Alexander Gustafsson. Would you pass on seeing Silva the champion face Jones at 205lbs? The titles just don't matter. Making fights people will pay to see, that's all that matters.