Anderson Silva wants big-money event fights. And he's willing to work at heavyweight to make sure they happen.
Prior to Silva's flooring Forrest Griffin earlier this month in Philadelphia, SI.com confirmed that Silva's representatives had spoken with Zuffa about the heralded UFC middleweight champion moving up to heavyweight for the first time in his career.
Not only that, they already had an opponent in mind: Frank Mir.
Disinterested by middleweight contenders Nathan Marquardt, Demian Maia and Dan Henderson, and unwilling to fight close friend Lyoto Machida at light heavyweight -- where Silva could conceivably knock off challengers and make a disaster out of the UFC's marquee division -- "The Spider" needs new, challenging scenarios to stay motivated. A move to heavyweight would certainly achieve that, and according to Silva's manager Ed Soares, the UFC was receptive to the idea.
Based on longevity and dominance, the label of MMA's best fighter has arguably belonged to Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko for the past few years. However, the gap between Emelianenko and Silva has closed to a photo finish. And if the UFC can be convinced tha a move to heavyweight is the right plan as 185 sorts itself out, Silva could set himself up to supplant Emelianenko as the sport's best.
It would indeed be impressive for a former world champion at 167 pounds to climb all the way to heavyweight. If he gets his way and beats Mir, that would set up blockbusters against Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, or, dare we say it, Brock Lesnar, a fight Silva would accept if the money is right.
Beyond legacy issues, which media and fans tend to focus on more than fighters, the move up could drastically improve Silva's paydays, which would increase with the size of his opponents and corresponding pay-per-view numbers.
For all those reasons, I like the move.
Sure, the organization's middleweight division features several threats. But outside of Maia, we've already seen Silva brush most challengers aside. Silva's team argues that Henderson, Marquardt and Maia aren't deserving. They want the Marquardt-Maia winner to fight Henderson to establish a true contender in the division. I don't think it's a terrible idea. There shouldn't be any disagreement that Marquardt or Maia against Henderson would be a perfect bout to use the Nevada option of five-round non-title fights (more on that to come).
Otherwise, the one challenger rarely mentioned these days is Yushin Okami, whom Silva should fight before he leaves the division for good. Outside of that, you're talking about Vitor Belfort and Wanderlei Silva, both great names and potential draws who are just emerging at 185.
The best bouts might come at light heavyweight -- Silva vs. Rampage; Rashad; Shogun; and down the road, Jon Jones or Gegard Mousasi -- but with Silva and Machida refusing to fight, an extended stay at 205 doesn't make sense. By the sound of things, the talented Brazilians won't compete no matter how much pressure comes down from Dana White and the UFC.
"I'm gonna say there's no way they fight," said Soares, who also manages Machida.
What does that leave? Heavyweight.
Who wouldn't want to see whether Silva at his walk-around 215 to 220 pounds is good enough to defeat opponents regardless of weight? Pound for pound personified, I say. A win or two in the division would embolden fans and media with enough hope that Silva could be the one to stop Lesnar.
The pound-for-pound king an underdog? Imagine that.
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/200...#ixzz0OkrNRuSQ