With the breaking news yesterday that Vitor Belfort has been removed from his scheduled middleweight title fight against Anderson Silva at UFC 112, much has been speculated about what is next for the 'The Spider.'
A number of my B/R colleagues have suggested a potential move to 205lbs or even a fight with Randy Couture would be a great solution to the UFC's pending problem. Couture, who is fresh off of a win over Mark Coleman at UFC 109, is in need of an opponent himself, and a fight with Anderson Silva could really solidify his claim to a title shot.
It would make for a good PPV draw to make this match up and is really one of the only viable fights at 205 for both fighters as the remaining top contenders are all already matched up with opponents. Rampage vs Evans at UFC 114, Rua vs Machida at UFC 113, and Griffin vs Lil Nog at UFC 114. If the UFC goes ahead and offers Anderson a 205lbs fight at UFC 112, is there a bigger issue that is being over looked?
The UFC Middleweight title was last defended by Silva on Apr. 18, 2009 against Thales Leites at UFC 97.
That fight has been consigned to history as one of the worst fights ever witnessed in the Octagon. Leites apparently refused to engage the Champion and Silva simply didn't want to go to the ground with his fellow Brazilian, resulting in a five-round stalemate.
Before that fight, Anderson defended his title against Patrick Cote at UFC 90 on Oct. 25, 2008. That fight was more competitive but ended abruptly when the Canadian ruptured his knee and was forced to retire from the fight resulting in a TKO win for Silva.
With his last two title defenses being tainted, we have to go all the way back to Mar. 1, 2008 at UFC 82 to find the last time that the Middleweight title was contested in a competitive title fight. On that occasion, Silva came away with a submission victory over Dan Henderson in what many commentators still refer to as Silva's toughest test to date.
With the UFC recently creating yet another Interim-Heavyweight title after Brock Lesnar's absence through illness, should we not be looking at the Middleweight Champion and the UFC with more disdain for not defending the title.
Should the UFC make a 205lbs fight for Silva at UFC 112 that would push his next fight back to at least July of this year. That would be over 14 months since the Middleweight title was last defended and well over two years since the fans witnessed a competitive Middleweight title fight!
Chael Sonnen who is the current healthy No. 1 contender and the fighter everyone is talking about after his domination over Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 should be the person to replace Vitor Belfort. The Team Quest fighter may struggle to make UFC 112 due to medical suspensions and cuts to his eyes.
However, the UFC has a number of upcoming cards, so the fight could easily be pushed back to UFC 113 or 114 if necessary. It would also give Anderson enough time to re-jig his training schedule to peak a few weeks later then planned.
Sure, Randy Couture would probably be a more interesting matchup and make more money, but there has to come a point where fans should demand to see the titles defended. So with the fallout from yet another injury to a scheduled fight the bottom line for the UFC is this.
Anderson Silva must defend his Middleweight Title!!