Rashad Evans Makes Perfect Sense as Anderson Silva's Next Opponent

Jeremy BotterMMA Senior WriterJanuary 21, 2013

DELRAY BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 17:  (R) Vitor Belfort trains with (L) Rashad Evans at the Jaco Hybrid Training Center on September 17, 2012 in Delray Beach, Florida. Belfort will fight Jon Jones on September 22, 2012 at UFC 152 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Vitor Belfort's defeat of Michael Bisping at UFC on FX 7 last Saturday night opened up a whole new world of possibilities for the UFC's middleweight division.

That's not quite right. In all honesty, it actually put a exclamation point on the idea that there are no real contenders for Anderson Silva's championship. 

In recent months, we've seen Tim Boetsch, Alan Belcher and Bisping all make their way to the faint edges of title contendership. All have fallen. Chris Weidman, the man many believe to be the rightful contender for Silva's belt, is on the shelf with an injury until next summer, and Silva doesn't seem to be all that keen on fighting him, anyway.

And so we're left with a champion who apparently has no challenger. But that's where Rashad Evans comes in.

Over the past year, Evans has been repeatedly asked about a move down to middleweight, but he's consistently rebuffed the idea of moving down unless he's slotted directly into a fight with Silva. During Monday's conference call to promote his UFC 156 fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Evans once again addressed the idea of switching weight classes.

"It'd be a tremendous honor to have held the belt in two different divisions," Evans said. "But also the chance to compete against Anderson Silva, he's one of my favorites fighters to watch. I get excited every single time I have a chance to watch him fight."

"When my career is all said and done, I want to be able to say I competed against some of the best guys ever in history. For me to get the chance to compete against Anderson Silva would just be an amazing experience and something I'll take with me forever."

I'm going to be honest with you, right here and right now: The idea of Evans moving down for a fight with Silva makes a lot of sense.

I'm of the belief that Weidman is deserving of a fight with Silva, but the middleweight champ only seems interested in fights against opponents that have a big enough name to sell a pay-per-view. Weidman just doesn't fit that bill, not yet anyway. If he continues wrecking top 10 middleweights the way he has in the past, he'll eventually get to a point where Silva will have little problem with stepping into the cage with Weidman. 

But right now, there's only one man who makes sense for Silva, at least from Silva's perspective, and that man is Evans. And not only does Evans make sense from a monetary perspective, but I also believe he has the tools to beat Silva.

Yeah, I said it. Evans has the tools to beat Anderson Silva.

I'm not saying that I believe Evans will actually win a fight against Silva. Nor am I predicting Evans would win; I'm simply pointing out that Evans, a terrific wrestler with good striking, has the kind of game needed to put the champ on the ropes.

We saw Chael Sonnen execute the perfect game plan against Silva in their first fight: wrestling, wrestling and more wrestling. Sonnen is a better wrestler than Evans, but "Suga" is no slouch in the grappling department. As my colleague Jonathan Snowden pointed out in an email earlier today, Evans is essentially Sonnen with better boxing and submission defense. In that way, he's a lot like Weidman, except he's a lot more popular.

Make no mistake about it: Evans would still have extreme difficulty with Silva. There's a reason "The Spider" is the greatest fighter in the history of the sport. 

But Evans would have a lot better chance than many other fighters in the middleweight division, and it would create a must-see fight for summer 2013.