Stephan Bonnar said something interesting in his pre-fight confessional. I am paraphrasing here, but it was to the tune of "Do you think I care about a belt if I beat Anderson Silva?" Why would he say such craziness?
Because Anderson Silva is a walking, Portuguese-talking, front-kicking title all on his own.
Silva has progressed far beyond a mere champion. He has become an achievement. The highest achievement. Who will beat the unbeatable?
The middleweight title is little more than a trinket now. Icing on the cake. These fighters are stepping into the Octagon for something more. Something much grander.
They want to go down in history as the man who ended the reign of Anderson Silva. Being handed the belt would be dessert after an incredible bacon-wrapped steak dinner.
Every fighter dreams of being what Anderson Silva used to be. A champion renowned the world over. No one ever thinks they will become what he currently is. The greatest fighter to ever step into the cage. A ridiculous mix of skill and prowess.
That's not to say a win over Silva would instantly make his usurper king of the cage, but it would certainly catapult him higher than any gold-plated belt could.
As for Silva, what does he even need the belt for these days anyway? The man takes vacations in the light-heavyweight pool as a way to wind down before he returns to his duties as the final boss in the middleweight division.
UFC 153 proved that he can take fights on short notice, in a different division, with a man who is notorious for taking punishment and not going down, and still win.
After this win over Bonnar, everyone is questioning which phenomenon Silva will take on next. Will it be the oft-mentioned GSP or the current favorite Jon Jones? Which of these men can do what seemingly no one else can? I think I have the answer.
Silva vs. The Undertaker in a Hell In The Cell match at WrestleMania. At this point, it's the only logical fight left for the both of them.