The UFC's middleweight division is an apocalyptic glimpse into the future of the welterweight division. It is a bleak and barren landscape where fighters struggle to emerge from the shadow of the middleweight king, Anderson "The Spider" Silva.
His dominance is such an old story that the newspapers of his reign are starting to wrinkle with age. Silva has thrown aside all challengers with ease and began his venture into the land of the semi-giants in search of excitement.
With Silva hinting towards a retirement from the sport once his contract expires, now is the time for the middleweight survivors to stake a claim in the division.
10—Alan Belcher (14-6)
9—Michael Bisping (17-2)
8—Yoshihiro Akiyama (13-1)
7—Patrick Cote (13-5)
6—Demian Maia (10-1)
5—Yushin Okami (23-4)
4—Vitor Belfort (18-8)
3—Nate Marquardt (29-8-2)
2—Dan Henderson (25-7)
1—Anderson Silva (25-4)
Noteworthy—Chael Sonnen (23-10-1)
At UFC 103, Vitor Belfort is scheduled to fight Rich Franklin at a catch-weight of 195 pounds. A loss here could significantly hurt his chances for a title shot. Any blemish on a record reduces the PPV drawing power that a fighter has, this would be his ninth. Additionally, a win does nothing for Belfort in terms of rank, it's really a lose-lose situation for him.
Just over a month later on the preliminary section of the UFC 104 card, Yushin Okami is set to fight Chael Sonnen. A win for Sonnen could easily jump start his title search while a win for Okami would do nothing. Just like with Belfort, a loss would throw Okami to the bottom rungs of the divisional ladder.