Anderson Silva is an electric fighter. There is no doubt about that. Recently, though, it seems that he has started to rest on his laurels as the greatest UFC champion of all time, collecting the spoils of his fame rather than furthering his legacy.
Now, one could argue that the champ is indeed 37 years old, which is getting quite up there in fighter years. I understand that, and it’s a valid point. But on the other hand, it was Silva himself who not too long ago asked for a ten-fight contract extension, suggesting fighting was on his mind in a big way.
When Silva recently confirmed that the extension had not been signed as reported at UFC on FX 6 in Brazil, well, the UFC Middleweight title picture got a little unclear, to say the least. Couple that with the fact Silva has stated that he plans to take most of 2013 off, and the 185 lb. scene is muddied, if not in complete disarray. He says he wants to fight, and then he says he wants to take time off. Very confusing.
I understand that Anderson Silva has a ton of bargaining power as the best fighter in the MMA world. That doesn’t mean he should abuse it. I also know that his counterparts at Middleweight have done very, very little to push Silva into a spot where he has to defend his title. Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch, for all their trash talk on Silva last year, did next to nothing at UFC 155 as both suffered a loss. Michael Bisping would have been guaranteed to fight Silva had he won last Saturday; but again, Vitor Belfort knocked him out.
The list of contenders doesn’t stop there, however, and arguably one of the best in Chris Weidman is set to return this summer from shoulder surgery. Weidman tweeted he wants the bout and Silva said he wants to fight in the summer. That’s a tough return bout though, and I remember Silva saying he wants to take most of the year off to start his MMA school and do some acting. There are still the superfights on the horizon with Jon Jones and Georges St. Pierre right?
I’d have to disagree with that right now. Jones is tied up facing Chael Sonnen at the end of April and would need a ton of coercing (and/or money) to fight his “friend” Anderson Silva. I don’t think Silva wants that fight anyway. He would like to fight the smaller St. Pierre, but GSP doesn’t seem anxious in any sense of the term to face the larger Spider. He’s scheduled to fight Nick Diaz at UFC 158 and will most likely face Johny Hendricks next should both of them win that night.
Lately, people have thrown names like Vitor Belfort and Hector Lombard into the 185 lb. title mix as well. But most likely both are a couple good wins from title contention, Belfort due to his brutal KO loss to Silva in 2011, and Lombard due to his loss to Tim Boetsch last summer (although I thought he won an uninspired fight). A bout with either of these two power strikers if definitely good for the fans, but will it happen? Not soon enough. Will he fight Rashad Evans? I'd like to see it, but I doubt it.
I respect Anderson Silva for what he has accomplished. The UFC is far and away the best promotion in MMA, but right now, it seems the most prestigious champ has his division held hostage. Dana White speculates on superfights, and this and that, yet the champ has defended his belt once since August of 2011. He didn’t tear his ACL like GSP did either. Silva said last weekend that he “has to talk to Dana and Lorenzo” concerning his next bout.
Maybe so, but will he listen? It’s time for Anderson Silva to fight like he stated he wants to do so badly, or walk away from the belt so the division can move on. He is the best, there’s no doubt about that. But like Dana White always says, when you’re the champion, you take on all comers to prove that. Let's hope a fight announcement ends all of this speculation and red tape soon. Just don't count on it.