There was a time in the UFC middleweight division where all qualified contenders to Anderson Silva's thrown had been disposed of. The time following created title fights with one of the world's best against the likes of Thales Leites and Patrick Cote, ending with disasterous results.
Now, two of the former once thought to be quality contenders are back, as Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt each ended their last fight with a brutal knockout.
Both of these 185-pounders are the clear contenders to face Anderson Silva, yet neither may recieve it just yet.
The scenarios available for the middleweight division have grown numerous since UFC 100. Whether Marquardt recieves the title shot, or Henderson, the possibilities seems endless. Will they have to fight one another for the shot? Will Anderson Silva never return to Middleweight?
There are several possibilites for the fighters atop the division. Yet the question remains as to which one can clear up the madness of the UFC middleweight division.
Nate Marquardt or Dan Henderson Recieves Title Shot
Both Marquardt and Henderson feel they deserve the title shot, though the latter mentioned clearly wants it more.
Henderson has stated that if he does not get the title shot immediately, he will leave the division, sending him to the light heavyweight division. However, Marquardt said he will fight whoever the UFC puts him up against, whether it be Henderson or Silva, he would be fine with it.
If Henderson gets the title shot, Marquardt would easily be the number three ranked middleweight in the UFC. He would likely fight Yoshiro Akiyama or a fighter of similar status, fighting once again for the top contender spot.
If Marquardt receives the green light to fight Anderson Silva, then Dan Henderson would no doubt stick to his word and jump to light heavyweight.
While either of the two top contenders could recieve the title shot, it seems unlikely that either of the scenarios will actually happen.
Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt Fight for the Title of Top Contender
Anderson Silva believes that Marquardt and Henderson should fight one another to prove who truly deserves a rematch with the champion. Henderson disagrees.
A fight between Henderson and Marquardt is highly unlikely, unless Henderson is not planning on sticking to his threat to change landscapes if he does not get the shot.
It is hard to believe that Henderson wants to waste his work at middleweight to jump into the shark pool that is the UFC light heavyweight division, but one wonders how many fights he has left, and he may not want to waste one fighting for a title shot he believes he should already have.
As previously stated, Marquardt would be fine with fighting Henderson. He possibly is not as anxious as he once was for a rematch with Anderson Silva.
While this scenario is obviously the most sensible, it is also the most unlikely, unless Henderson has a change of heart.
Anderson Silva Vacates Title; Marquardt-Henderson Fight for Belt
The most interesting scenario would be Anderson Silva leaving the Middleweight division for good to focus on his light heavyweight and heavyweight endeavors.
This would leave Marquardt and Henderson as the obvious choices to fight for the belt, while Yushin Okami would not be far behind.
However, the reason that this scenario would be most intriguing lies in the fact that for once in several years, the division will actually be competitive regarding title fights. Silva has been a tyrant at 185 since his entry into the UFC. His departure would make the division more interesting than it has been in years.
The chances of this actually occuring is probably unlikely. The fact that the light heavyweight belt is out of the question for Silva as long as Lyoto Machida holds it makes it unlikely that Silva wants to just hand over his belt.
This option would clearly be the best option for all middleweight fighters in the UFC, while it would also make the division much more competitive, which is a plus for the UFC.
The UFC Middleweight division has been ruled by Anderson Silva ever since his first fight in the organization. He has disposed of the top competition in the division, and now a couple of his victims are back for revenge.
Both Marquardt and Henderson should have to fight one another for a chance at the title, but that is unlikely due to Henderson's thoughts on the fight.
Regardless of the scenario that actually takes place, only one will really benefit the middleweight division, and that is the departure of Anderson Silva. If he remains, than we can expect more of the same for several fights to come.