UFC 117: Where Does Anderson Silva Go From Here?

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UFC 117: Where Does Anderson Silva Go From Here?
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Anderson Silva is coming off one of the closest fights of his career. Silva battled through injury and went against his doctor's orders to participate in the fight, and still managed a victory.

Silva was injured yet he managed to stay in the fight long enough to beat his opponent via submission. In fact in Round One, Silva sustained a cracked rib. According to Compustrike, Silva was hit a total of 289 times by Chael Sonnen.

To put that into prospective, that's more shots landed on Silva in one fight than the rest of his career UFC bouts combined.

If an injured Anderson Silva can still beat arguably his greatest middleweight rival, what's next?

At this point in his career, Anderson Silva has won seven consecutive title fights. He has fought and beaten a former light heavyweight champion and is the longest reigning UFC champion in history.

For Silva there remain only two options:

Retire after his next fight, thus completing his UFC contract obligations.

or

Gain weight and fight in a heavier division.

If Silva retires, he will retire at the top of his game. It gives him the opportunity to pursue other avenues such as his desire to fight Roy Jones Jr. to show the boxing community and the world that MMA is also a very technical sport.

Silva's retirement would mark one of the rare times—now even rarer—when a professional athlete realizes that he is on the top of his game. All too often we see players retiring after becoming shells of them former selves.

Brett Favre, Mike Modano, Chuck Liddel, Randy Coutere are all athletes who should have retired before they did, or should have just stayed retired. Often athletes want to continue competing as long as they can. The problem is that when star athletes continue past their prime, it is hard for themselves or the media to recognize that they are no longer the top guys.

If Silva retires it shows rare foresight, which is often overlooked in the heat of the moment in sports. Silva will secure his legacy in sports history, opposed to tarnishing it by years of dwindling ability.

On the other hand, according to Silva's manager, Ed Soares, Silva wants the biggest fights that the UFC can throw at him. Apparently Silva wants the biggest fights the UFC can offer whether they are light heavyweight, catch-weight, or heavyweight.

Imagine this: UFC 130 Anderson Silva vs Brock Lesnar. Seem believable? Didn't think so.

Unfortunately for MMA fans, here we have a case of a manager trying to hype his product. I find it hard to believe that Silva would want to jump up two weight classes just to fight the biggest fights. Clearly right now anyone in a Silva Vs. (Blank) fight is one of the biggest fights of that card.

Clearly there are several potential catch-weight bouts that MMA fans would love to see featuring the spider. Anderson Silva vs George St.Pierre has been on the tongues of MMA fans since both fighters were called the "pound for pound" best fighters in the world. If this fight occurs, it would mean huge ratings for the UFC and a great show for MMA fans.

The Lesnar vs Silva fight would be even more intriguing. While interesting, there are also many different problems to this scenario. First, Lesnar is much, much bigger than Silva. Any catch-weight bout would have to factor in that Lesnar no matter what would still way 25+ pounds more than Silva weighs on  the day of the fight. Also factor in that Brock really doesn't have a lot to gain but has much to lose.

Whether rightly or wrongly, Lesnar's credibility is often brought to the forefront by the media and fans. A loss in a match as huge as this could destroy the Lesnar brand that Dana White has worked so very hard to build.

What's next for Anderson Silva? Another fight against someone who can't win, and more public controversy caused by White mocking Silva because White can't control Silva like a puppet, nor can he find someone to replace him.

After all that, what's next for Anderson Silva? The only person who knows that is the only person who has remained silent, Silva himself.

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