Embarrassment. Circus. Worst Moment in UFC History.
In the aftermath of UFC 112, there's a lot of things being said about Anderson Silva and his sixth title defense in Abu Dhabi, all of which are 100 percent correct. But the real question isn't what Dana White and the UFC should be doing to make it up to the fans. That's a different problem for a different time. What needs to be decided is Anderson Silva's future.
What do you do with a champion that willingly and selfishly makes a mockery of himself, his opponent, and his company?
If Silva doesn't want to fight for his belt, does he even deserve to be called the UFC Middleweight Champion?
Catastrophic events like UFC 112 require extreme action. Dana White and the UFC need to take the harshest route possible with Silva and show, once and for all, that disgracing the Octagon and cheating fans out of a fight is career suicide. Up until now, the MMA world has let Silva's incredible talents and superhuman abilities account for his petulant and immature attitude towards his middleweight title defenses. But what good is the world's top pound-for-pound fighter if he can't be bothered to finish opponents so supposedly beneath him?
Dana White says he doesn't know what to do about Silva? It's simple. Strip him of his title, and suspend him from the ring.
Why Risk Another Main Event?
When you think about it, it's amazing that Silva has gotten away with this twice already. In Ariel Helwani's own words, Silva's antics play out like a broken record. While it's true that Silva's latest fight just further cements his status as an untouchable 185-pound combatant, UFC 112 is also proof that putting "The Spider" in a main event fight is officially a bad business investment.
At the end of the day, the UFC is about making money, and a fighter like Anderson Silva has the potential to scare off ticket buyers, investors, and sponsorships that pad the organization's revenue stream. If Anderson Silva continues to show up on pay-per-view events, it's easy to assume that even hardcore MMA fans will be less likely to pay for the privilege of seeing him torture his hapless opponents. What makes this even worse is that it cheats people out of seeing other excellent fights on a PPV card, and with UFC 112, you've got to feel bad for Frankie Edgar, Phil Davis, Mark Munoz, and all the other fighters who put their health on the line for the fans.
After this weekend, it's clear that Anderson Silva's presence in a UFC event is like landing on "0" at a roulette table: everyone loses.
Should Silva Get Moved to LHW or HW?
More level-headed MMA fans have also made the argument that Silva isn't fully to blame for his antics. As his one-sided thrashings of Forrest Griffin and James Irvin have indicated, Silva is more than willing to do his job against top-tier opposition. But is that the attitude we want from a champion? Moreover, it's not Silva's place to decide who's a worthy enough opponent to bother fighting. Even B.J. Penn, someone who's miles and leagues beyond other so many other lightweights, at least has the grace and fortitude to finish off his opponents, and his ego is probably just as big as Silva's.
Moving Silva to the light heavyweight or heavyweight divisions isn't the answer.
At least, that's not the right answer now. Giving Silva an opponent like Lyoto Machida, Rampage Jackson, or (God forbid) Brock Lesnar right after this disastrous event would be a backwards step for the UFC, rewarding a selfish fighter for throwing the equivalent of an in-ring temper tantrum. If Dana White's smart, he'll move Silva up a weight class or two after a healthy one-year ring suspension without pay.
And let's not even justify the idea of a Silva/Georges St-Pierre fight. It's obvious that GSP still has some work to do in his own division, as well as room for improvement on his own techniques, which we've seen from his last three fights. If GSP had anything to gain by fighting "The Spider" (outside of a huge paycheck), the negative backlash from UFC 112 makes that super-fight worth a lot less than it was before last Saturday.
What Could the UFC Lose Without Silva?
Perhaps the most damning message that Silva has sent is that he has the potential to damage MMA's credibility as a legitimate sport. Personally, I'll never forget a heated argument that I had with my father, where he furiously described MMA as nothing but a venue for "legalized assault" inside a ring. Fighters like Anderson Silva made it difficult for anyone to prove a contrary point.
One of the UFC's greatest strengths is their willingness and ability to sign and promote both big name fighters and smaller prospects over several events a year. Losing Anderson Silva in the rotation would be a loss, but it's one that the UFC could easily handle. Putting Silva on Spike TV just invites further disaster, and even that risk isn't worth it.
Anderson Silva has essentially made himself out to be a terrorist. If demands for triple-A competitors aren't met to his liking, he's apparently happy to bring down the UFC's reputation with him. Basically, the UFC's Middleweight Champion is attempting to hold the company hostage.
If the UFC dropped Anderson Silva from their fight cards and freed up the middleweight belt, I doubt that the organization would suffer too much without him. At the very worst, people would be clamouring for his return match at the end of his suspension. At the very best, Silva might learn a thing or two about biting the hand that signs his paycheck.
McKinley Noble is a video game nerd and freelance writer with no official MMA background whatsoever. His favorite fight is Griffin/Bonnar (see, he's one of those kids) and he's also a Brock Lesnar fan, so make of that what you will. Aside from the occasional MMA rant, M. Noble's also been published in GamePro, Bitmob, 1UP, PC World, Official PlayStation Magazine.
(Photo Source: Esther Lin, MMAFighting.com, Fanhouse)