And since Silva is the only mixed martial artist to make the list, that puts him ahead of combat sports' other marketing magnets like UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar.
Athletes are ranked "according to their marketing potential over a three-year period" and the list "comprises the 50 athletes deemed by SportsPro to offer value for marketing money if signed today to a long-term global endorsement deal."
"The Spider," who currently holds the UFC middleweight title and hasn't lost in 13 fights under the Zuffa banner, crawled in at number 40.
Here's why, according to SportsProMedia.com:
Having signed a long-term representation contract with high-profile soccer legend Ronaldo's sports marketing agency 9ine in February 2011, Silva's status in his native Brazil skyrocketed following a highly publicised win in theatrical style over celebrity fighter and fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.
Now, with the UFC’s aggressive expansion plans focusing on a return to Rio de Janeiro in August, Silva breaks into the rankings as a value-for-money athlete with a golden opportunity to cement his position as a home-grown hero in an enormous market, and a global superstar in a sport that is rapidly becoming one of the industry’s hottest new properties with broadcasters and sponsors alike.
So, I'm just wondering if you agree that over the next three years, Silva can be considered the most marketable MMA star in the world. Who can Zuffa make more money from?
Is the cash cow that is (was?) Brock Lesnar now less marketable? Has his illness, coupled with his failure to defend his heavyweight title against Cain Velasquez and subsequent ratings failure that is The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 13 affected his draw?
What about St. Pierre?
He just sold out a 55,000 seat arena. He is just as dominant a champion in his division as Silva is at 185-pounds. He has the good looks, a down-to-earth personality and the physique of a dedictated athlete. But does his lack of killer instinct and his fight-to-not-lose tactics affect his draw?
Will someone like Jon Jones maybe replace Silva on this list next year?
If say Alistair Overeem wins the Strikeforce tournament and came to UFC and subsequently went on to win the division title, how marketable would he be?