Right now, the landscape of the UFC’s middleweight division is about as uncertain as it has ever been. There is no decisive No. 1 contender in place, no title eliminator bout scheduled to date and no clear next step for current champion Anderson Silva.
Questions regarding Silva’s next challenger have led most fans to look in the direction of either Chris Weidman, Luke Rockhold or Vitor Belfort, but according to “The Spider’s” manager, Ed Soares, that trio—with one exception—is not where the best options lie.
In an interview with Cagefanatic, Soares made it clear that Weidman is not the man for the job. Not because he lacks the skill to give Silva a run for his money, but because he lacks the notoriety to make it worth the champion’s while.
I mean, I don’t think Anderson has anything to gain from that [Weidman] fight, other than beating a super tough, unknown guy. He’s a phenomenal talent, and no disrespect to his fighting abilities, but we would like to fight somebody with a little more recognition and maybe Weidman is a fight or two away…He’s going into that fight, most people, the general public are like, Anderson is fighting some guy named Weidman from New York, you know, he’s going to walk through him. So if he doesn’t walk through him? There’s really nothing to gain other than another win and money in his pocket.
That’s a pretty firm stance on Weidman, one that undercuts the growing perception that the surging middleweight should be next in line. Soares does, however, offer a couple of alternatives for fans to mull over.
“When I think about it, you know, the only thing that comes to mind—and I don’t even know if that would be a possible fight—is…Cung Le.”
Silva's manager also notes that “Luke Rockhold could be a great potential opponent," even if he isn't ranked as high as Weidman.
While Soares’ comments make terrific business sense, chances are they will be the source of many an eye-roll. The Silva camp’s staunch unwillingness to acknowledge Weidman as a viable opponent has been the origin of some controversy in MMA circles for some time now, so Soares’ reassertion will likely only fan those flames.
In the end though, it will not be Silva or Soares who chooses the next No. 1 contender. That decision will ultimately fall to the UFC. And something tells me the organization may not have Le ahead of Weidman on its list.
Who do you think Silva's next opponent should be? Leave it in the comments.