After a highly anticipated rematch with Chael Sonnen at UFC 148, it appears as if Anderson Silva will not be stepping back into the cage to defend the middleweight title until sometime in 2013.
This means he will have only fought one time in 2012, and that simply won’t do.
Of course, Silva has legions of fans who will say that he is so good that he’s earned the right to not only pick who he fights, but to fight as infrequently as he chooses. In fact, they just won’t say it; they’ll shout it from the rooftops.
It is true that a fighter can sit on the sidelines for as long as they want if there are injury concerns or other outside factors that postpone a fight; maybe the only real opponent of any worth and market value is injured and they want to keep themselves available for that big fight, as is the case for Carlos Condit.
Or maybe they’ve got personal problems they need to deal with, or contractual disputes. Maybe they’re trying to decide if they are going to move up or down into another division.
All of these things are valid (to a degree) reasons for not fighting up to three times a year if their health permits.
But Silva simply wants to take some time off: an extended vacation to spend time with family and friends, and I honestly think that is a valid request.
So why say that Silva fighting just once in 2012 doesn’t cut it? Why make such a claim when it sounds so critical and negative?
Because he’s getting older, every single day, and no matter what anyone thinks, Father Time has a way of showing up out of the blue, totally uninvited, ready to pull up a chair at the table and eat all the good stuff without asking.
Silva is 37 years old, and contrary to popular belief, not everyone is Randy Couture or Dan Henderson. Silva is already eying retirement, and taking extended periods of time off during what are probably the last good years of your career is taking needless risks.
Of course, Silva has earned some time off. The man is the greatest champion the UFC has ever seen, and he had to train hard and fight hard to get every accolade he’s earned.
But if he needs a break this late in his career, maybe he should decide just how many more fights he wants, fight them and then retire and enjoy the sun for as long as he pleases.
Taking a break now, while there are still a few fights left that he’d like to take, is like a farmer taking the rest of the week off, fully intending to hit it hard come the following Monday morning. Sure, he’s earned it, but if a flood comes Sunday night, he’ll wish he’d gotten those crops out of the ground and off to market when he had the chance.
Silva’s already seen one flood in the form of Chael Sonnen, and the result was a crop of middleweight fighters who aren’t as afraid of Silva as they used to be.
Still, Silva is Silva, and that means he’s the best, bar none. But everyone get’s old, and Silva is no exception.
He had a relatively easy fight at UFC 148, and that makes it even easier to get the wrecking machine he rides into the cage into prime form for another fight before the close of 2012.
I hope he decides to fight again before the year is out, if for no other reason than to stay sharp. The history of the fight game is full of incredible fighters who, as time passed, began to fight less and less; eventually losing to fighters they probably would have rolled right over if they’d have stayed active.
It’s then, after the bitter sting of defeat, that they try and come back, throwing themselves against the wall time and again, watching their legacy crumble brick by brick, loss after loss.
Fedor Emelianenko is a good example of this. In his prime, when he was fighting three to four times a year, he was able to defend himself against the best submission artists in the game, pounding them into defeat while inside their guard.
Then the fights seemed to be fewer and fewer. After just one fight in 2008, Fedor was tested in the only fights he took in 2009: by Andrei Arlovski and then Brett Rogers—both men Fedor would have annihilated just two years earlier.
What saved him in both fights was not the sharpness of his skills, but the power in his fists, and power is always one of the last things to go.
Then, in 2010, Fedor tasted defeat for the first time in nearly a decade, thanks to Fabricio Werdum. As great as Werdum’s guard and submissions are, Fedor had seen that level of game before, in his fights with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Silva has a chance to avoid all of those pitfalls and retire with an unblemished record in the UFC, but he’s got to make hay while the sun is shining.
The time of Anderson Silva is now, and he should be making the most of it. Fighting only once in 2012 is letting that time pass right by instead of making the most of it.