UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva faces another tough challenge in undefeated Chris Weidman this Saturday night at UFC 162, where Silva looks to make the 11th successful defense of his middleweight belt, but if UFC president Dana White's words to Steven Marrocco and John Morgan of MMA Junkie hold weight, something big awaits Silva with a win, or perhaps even with a loss.
If Silva cannot beat Weidman, he gets an immediate rematch for the belt. However, if he defeats Weidman, as many expect he will do, Silva could see a superfight in his next fight.
With UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre focused on Johny Hendricks and UFC 167, though, Silva's superfight hopes would likely depend on the result of UFC 165's headliner between UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and top title challenger Alexander Gustafsson.
The champ suggested to Ariel Helwani of MMA Fighting that perhaps fans should pump the brakes on the superfight everyone wants, but if Silva bests Weidman and gets time to heal up, would he reconsider? Even if he stood by his belief that he could not best Jones, would he open up to a potential trek towards the title if Gustafsson won the belt? On the other end of things, would Gustafsson welcome a fight with Silva if he felt confident in taking his talents to the 205-pound weight class?
The superfight talks on their own come with their basic pros and cons.
Fans demand these fights because they feature the best fighters from two divisions, provide interesting stylistic matchups and hold potential to draw big financially.
On the flip side, however, they make dollar and cents, but they only make sense if one fighter expresses a desire to fight in the other's weight class.
Experts could beat into the ground how Silva might need to fight Lyoto Machida if he seriously went up in weight and made a run for the belt, regardless of whether Jones retains at UFC 165. Others could say that Silva considers Jones a friend and would decline the chance to fight him on that basis, but while the two might share a friendship outside the cage, Jones and Silva never trained together.
If anything, Jones retaining the title against Gustafsson means that the two friends could easily put on a martial-arts classic for the MMA world if they elect to compete against each other.
On the flip side, Gustafsson holds no beef with Silva, nor does Silva hold beef with "The Mauler." Neither Silva nor Gustafsson ever spoke on what would happen if the two crossed paths, but does that mean it won't happen down the line? Would the challenge of the taller Gustafsson cause Silva to second-guess saying "yes" to that fight, even if Gustafsson dethrones Jones?
Regardless of whether it does or not, talks of Silva in a superfight depend on his performance against the undefeated Weidman. Sure, he sees a younger version of himself in Jones, and with Silva at 38 years of age, fans could justify knowing that Jones defeats Silva if they meet, but others such as Yahoo! Sports expert Dan Wetzel suggest that Silva said what he did not mean in claiming Jones might beat him if they met:
Silva has said plenty of things in his career. Sometimes there is confusion through translation. Sometimes he's just playing games. And there is no question this could simply be the beginning of playing head games with a 25 year old that might fall for it.
In other words, Silva plays this card almost all the time. He attempts to amuse fans with his lost-in-translation quotes but ends up aggravating a number of them. This sequence usually ends with him accepting the fight he initially shrugged off because the fans want it and the UFC wants it.
Therefore, Silva may hold no obligation to take on Jones or Gustafsson in what could prove to be Silva's last UFC bout ever, but if he beats Weidman in dominant and impressive fashion, he should at least consider a run that would lead him to one of those two somewhere down the line.