This week has been a fairly interesting one, news wise, as Anderson Silva’s camp has begun to deal with the fallout of Silva/Sonnen 2 not being held in Brazil. Him turning down a title defense against Chris Weidman because he wasn’t a big name, and Jon Jones due to size issues, shows just how underwhelming his second round stoppage of Sonnen in Vegas, on one of the biggest drawing cards in North American history, really was for him. It’s why a rematch with Rich Franklin, outrageous as it sounds, makes sense for him. It’s why he finally wants the superfight with Georges St. Pierre, or a fight with Nick Diaz, when the former is occupied with a resurgence of contenders and the latter isn’t licensed to fight and won’t be for some time. One thing seems for sure for the UFC middleweight champion now, in light of ridiculous statements by his management staff that sounds eerily similar to Floyd Mayweather Jr’s handlers at times.
Anderson Silva had planned on retiring if he had beaten Sonnen in Brazil … and defeating his biggest rival in less than a perfect surrounding has left him wanting. He wants to call his shot as he leaves, nothing less.
There are no more worlds to conquer for Silva now. Is he correct in wanting to fight someone with a bigger name as opposed to Weidman, who by all rights ought to have a bout agreement with the champion signed by now? Not really … he is a champion and as a champion his duty is to defend the belt against the top contender continually. It’s the one downside of holding a major title in any combat sport; you stop being able to pick and choose your spot. It’s the obligation of a champion to defend his title, not try to take fights with people outside his division because he wants a payday.
It makes sense if Silva still wants another payday and is unsatisfied because he didn’t get his storybook finish.
That’s the key to take away from all of the Silva shenanigans involving the middleweight division. Anderson Silva didn’t get the story tale ending he wanted, stopping Chael Sonnen in a soccer stadium on the biggest show in MMA history in his home country. It’s telling that it took the UFC as much as it did to coax him to defend his title in Las Vegas, instead, and it explains his behavior in lining up his next fight. He wants a payday and a name; there aren’t many people with names that he hasn’t beaten.
One can imagine why Chris Weidman, who most recently destroyed Mark Munoz on a UFC on Fuel card, isn’t exciting for him. Weidman has a tremendous style designed to stifle his game, nearly identical to Chael Sonnen’s, and he’s beaten a man who Silva has called a training partner on occasion in a spectacular and dominating fashion. It won’t be a tremendous payday for him based off of potential pay per view buys and it also could be where he loses his title.
A catchweight against GSP or Diaz is high profile and his title wouldn’t be on the line and draws significantly better, more likely with GSP than the Stockton, CA, product.
At this point one imagines that Silva only has perhaps one or two fights left in his UFC career before he calls it quits. We tend to forget that he’s 37 right now and that a fighter who bases his style on ultra-fast reflexes and counter punching doesn’t lose it gradually. It goes away quickly and it’s why power based fighters last longer. Age is catching up with Silva and, while his legacy is secure right now, he’s at the stage in his career where he’s looking at his exit. The light at the end of his fighting career is brighter than it is at the start. He could walk away now and no one would blame him; he’s got enough money and fame, has raised the standard by which a UFC champion is held to and is now in the discussion as being one of the handful fighters to be called the greatest ever.
And he wants that final exit that few get, on a huge card with a victory over an established opponent. He wants to be MMA’s John Elway; it was lost when UFC 148 moved from Brazil to Nevada. And now we’re dealing with the consequences.