UFC on FX 7 Results: 5 Possible Opponents for Anderson Silva's Next Defense
The UFC on FX 7 main event between Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort was a most meaningful affair within the scope of the middleweight title picture.
Had Bisping won, a title shot was his. But Bisping lost, and out the window goes that title shot.
The question now becomes, who gets the opportunity Bisping nearly laid claim to? Is it Vitor Belfort? Or will the UFC brass go off the board and tap someone else to challenge "The Spider" for middleweight supremacy?
Here, we'll take a look at five fighters who may potentially be charged with the task of bringing down the pound-for-pound king.
Though not as close to a championship fight as Bisping was when entering their UFC on FX 7 bout, Belfort remains a logical choice to next fight for the title.
Since losing to Silva in February, 2011, both Belfort and "The Spider" have gone undefeated at middleweight and have scored a combined five finishes in as many fights at 185. Perhaps it's time for another kick at the can?
And besides, doesn't beating the guy who was supposed to next challenge for the belt make a pretty strong case for Belfort?
It does, certainly, but in the end I don't think Belfort receives an immediate shot. Rather, I think he'll need to earn it through an official title eliminator contest between him and the next man on the list, something I explained at the conclusion of UFC on FX 7.
Weidman was probably sitting in second place behind Bisping before the Brit was defeated at UFC on FX 7, so he might just return from injury with an immediate title shot.
But, he may need to put one more win under his belt before contesting for the division's crown.
The 28-year-old should be ready for combat by the end of spring, so a fight with Silva works schedule-wise. But if the UFC doesn't mind keeping Silva out of action until at least summer, then Weidman's return would also fit in nicely with Belfort's current trajectory.
In fact, a No.1 contender bout between Weidman and Belfort makes the most sense for deciding who gets the next title shot than any other scenario out there.
Okami's place on this list is contingent on a victory over Hector Lombard at UFC on Fuel TV 8.
He's fought Silva twice before and has posted a 1-1 record. The victory was of the disqualification variety, but that's still more success than most can claim against the middleweight champ.
Besides, Okami took out Alan Belcher last December, and if he takes out Lombard this March, who else beyond he, Belfort and Weidman can make a case for a title shot?
This matchup might not be popular, but if Okami beats Lombard, he's right in the mix for a rematch with Silva.
Lombard's place on this list is contingent on a victory over Yushin Okami at UFC on Fuel TV 8.
Though even a win over Okami probably wouldn't be enough for Lombard to deserve a shot at Silva, it might be enough to get him one.
The UFC clearly had high hopes for the knockout artist when they signed him in 2012, so there are grounds for believing the promotion may rush him to the front of the line should he so much as hint at his own worthiness.
If Belfort vs. Weidman is booked, Lombard beats Okami and the UFC makes Silva defend his belt by early summer, Lombard might just be the opponent standing opposite the champion inside the Octagon.
Costa Philippou, Brian Stann and Wanderlei Silva
I've grouped these three fighters together because the scenario that would see any of them as the next No.1 contender has them so intertwined that it's logical for them to share a slide on this list.
You see, Stann and Silva are scheduled to fight this March. The loser will obviously be out of the title picture for awhile, but the winner will be right on the fringe.
Should that winner face Costa Philippou in the summer, the victor of that bout might just be called on to fight for the title sometime around September.
Whoever emerges from this trio might still need a higher-ranked middleweight to suffer an injury for a title shot to fall in their lap, but it's not outside the realm of possibility that Philippou, Stann or Silva make for "The Spider's" next opponent.
Unlikely, but possible.