The recently announced UFC 153 main event of Anderson Silva versus Stephan Bonnar seems like an easy win for Silva—and that's the problem. In fact, the fight will do nothing but hurt Silva's legacy as a fighter.
Silva's UFC accolades and phenomenal, Neo-like moves have done little to sway the legions of critics. Their primary argument is as follows: Silva is the kingpin of the weakest division in the UFC. As such, he only looks good because he's fighting lesser fighters. Patrick Cote, Demian Maia, Thales Leites, et al. do not legitimate contenders make, according to the naysayers.
Silva's foray into the light heavyweight division, too, was studded with mediocrity. Silva was matched up with perennial journeyman and one-time Skeletor look-alike James Irvin as well as Forrest Griffin. Both men were clowned; Griffin even ran from the cage after the fight.
Silva only looked mortal at the hands of Chael Sonnen, who, as Silva detractors claim, was just a light heavyweight who moved down to a weight class with less talent and had success.
Fortunately or unfortunately, anti-Silva arguments hold some water. That's why the fight against Bonnar is so unfortunate.
Yes, it's great that Silva showed the vaunted "warrior spirit" and decided to fight but, ultimately, fighting Bonnar is more a bane than it is a blessing.
Silva is expected to dominate Bonnar in a manner not seen in quite some time. Twitter was ablaze with joke tweets about just how bad of a beating Bonnar was in for.
If Silva destroys Bonnar with one of the greatest highlight-reel finishes in the history of the UFC, it won't be a big deal. He was supposed to do that. The win will only further perpetuate that belief that Silva's greatness and godlike aura was built on the back of B-level fighters in a shallow weight class.
If Silva doesn't win in devastating fashion, it'll be a blow to his reputation and his legacy; "he couldn't finish a semi-retired Stephen Bonnar? He SUCKS!" the notoriously fickle MMA fanbase would say.
And if he loses? Imagine the fallout from first Georges St.Pierre versus Matt Serra fight but worse—far worse (like, "Stay off all MMA sites and Twitter for a month or two to keep your sanity" worse).
Furthermore, the contenders in the middleweight division are no longer just the buzzing of flies compared to Silva.
Middleweight is undergoing a renaissance and fighters like Chris Weidman are leading the charge.
Weidman obviously couldn't have been moved from his fight with Tim Boetsch in December to UFC 153 due to an elbow surgery, but the fact of the matter is that Silva should be spending the twilight days of his career defending his title against valid challengers rather than gallivanting into a lackluster pay-per-view main event.
By fighting Bonnar, Silva is opening the door for critics to say that he's ducking the valid challengers to the middleweight title in favor of an easier fight at a different weight class. Even if this isn't true, rabid Silva-haters will latch onto it and never let it go; Silva will be a "ducker" on the level of Jon Jones.
The issues of Silva versus Bonnar and Silva's Legacy are amplified by Silva's age. He's 37 years old now. Despite his intention to compete for several more years, he might not be able to do so at a high level (or at all).
There are only so many Anderson Silva fights left—especially when he's still young enough to bring it as hard as he can—it'd be a pity to waste any of them on a fight that ultimately means nothing and is tantamount to a pro-wrestling squash match both in importance and in practice.