After moving up a weight class and knocking out Stephan Bonnar in the first round at the main event of UFC 153, Anderson Silva must continue to fight at the 205-pound weight class.
Silva, who released a vicious knee to Bonnar’s chest to end the bout, said after the contest that “he would not fight again at light heavyweight,” according to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto. But this is a position Silva must reevaluate.
The last time Silva was truly challenged in the Octagon was against Chael Sonnen in 2010, but a rematch earlier this year definitely proved that Sonnen was not nearly in Silva’s class as a fighter.
As of now, the only fighter who can give the Brazilian a genuine challenge is Jon Jones. Silva and Jones are unquestionably the two best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
The motivation for Silva not to fight Jones is simple, clear and understandable. He is 12 years older than Jones and two inches shorter, in addition to having to move up a weight class for the potential superfight.
Silva has certainly accomplished enough in his career to go down as arguably the greatest fighter in UFC history without fighting Jones.
It would be all to easy to skirt a fight with Jones, but doing so would be detrimental to the UFC brand. Mixed martial arts as a sport has grown in popularity largely because Dana White and UFC have not made the same mistakes as boxing.
In the UFC, the best fighters get in the Octagon against each other. This has not always been the case with boxing, with Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather being the most prominent example.
Silva proved definitively in Rio de Janeiro that he is still capable of fighting at the light heavyweight class.
Bonnar is nowhere close to Jones as a fighter, and Silva would undoubtedly be putting himself at a disadvantage by going against Jones. But the courage and commitment to the ideals of the sport that Silva would show if he were to fight Jones would have a lasting impact on his legacy as a fighter, regardless of the outcome.
Going forward, Silva should continue to fight against light heavyweights in preparation for a fight with Jones.
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