Dana White made the Weidman vs. Silva rematch official, announcing it will take place at UFC 168, according to Bloody Elbow. While Anderson fans are clamoring for a quick return to glory for their fallen hero, the move is questionable for more than one reason.
“The Spider” is not the end-all-be-all contender in the division. He is a champion dethroned via finish, and there is little precedent for a dethroned king receiving an immediate rematch. The fact is that Silva did not lose via competitive decision. Weidman knocked out and bludgeoned Silva in the second round of UFC 162 and had been controlling the entirety of the bout up to that point.
An immediate title rematch makes sense when Frankie Edgar suffers a hard-fought loss that has fans arguing over which competitor won the bout. If Edgar had been knocked out by Gray Maynard in the first round of UFC 125: Resolution, no one would clamor for an immediate rematch. Even the ever-shallow heavyweight division forced Cain Velasquez to earn one contender victory after being knocked out by Junior dos Santos at UFC on Fox 1.
Rich Franklin had to win two bouts prior to gaining a rematch after being dethroned by Silva. Chael Sonnen, even after coming so close to defeating Silva in their first bout, had to win two bouts before a second opportunity. Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre took two bouts before a rematch with Matt Serra after being knocked out and losing his belt.
“The Spider” is leapfrogging the recent existing precedent. It is a shame for the rest of the division and fighters who have to work hard to make it back to a second title shot. More importantly, the middleweight division already has a contender in Vitor Belfort.
Belfort has won four straight middleweight bouts, finishing each of his opponents in spectacular fashion. Belfort is also 36 years old, which renders moot any argument that Silva ought be rushed to a title shot over his fellow Brazilian. Belfort needs that shot as much as "The Spider" and deserves it more.
Perhaps the strongest piece of the argument for Belfort is that he has been a gamer for the company. Belfort stepped up big to replace Lyoto Machida for UFC 152 in a division above his own. A good soldier should be given a tip of the hat by the higher-ups when the opportunity arises. This is especially true when said soldier is already statistically deserving, as Belfort is. The UFC seems to have turned their back on Belfort during what could be his last quality push for a title shot.
Finally, the financial and time-based logistics make sense on all levels for a Weidman vs. Belfort title bout. Silva said he needed to take time off after the loss. Meanwhile, the middleweight champion was practically untouched in his fight with Silva. With Belfort free and ready to vie for the title, there is no reason to avoid a bout with Weidman for the fall of 2013. That would mean Silva versus the winner of the Weidman/Belfort bout could be set for the late spring or early summer of 2014.
A Belfort victory over Weidman would mean a possible bout in Brazil. Both “The Phenom” and “The Spider” are two of the largest personas in Brazilian MMA. The UFC could make up for their missed opportunity at UFC 126 when the two fought in Las Vegas rather than their home country. A Weidman victory means an opportunity to nail down a spring or summer bout in Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. Either option makes more financial sense than an immediate rematch with only the last bout as the lead up.
There is no doubt Silva is a special man with a special set of skills. But he lost his bout with Weidman. When you lose your title, especially when you are dominated, you fall down the ladder. Silva, playing the same game he always does, lost his title violently. An immediate rematch simply makes little sense, even when considering the money grab angle.
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