Monday, May 4, 2009

No Other Options

Dana White and the UFC hype machine painted themselves into a corner and the only foreseeable way out was to put together a fight that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

What do you do with a fighter you promote as the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world when he seems to be uninterested in fighting to the best of his abilities? You give him his second fight at light heavyweight and make it against a fan favorite and former champion.

And so, Anderson Silva versus Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 was born.

Silva has been completely underwhelming in wins over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, but what purpose does a move to 205 serve? Should he win, what comes next? The light heavyweight title picture is already a crowded affair and adding Anderson Silva to the mix only muddies the waters more.

Regardless of who wins the upcoming Rashad Evans/Lyoto Machida title fight, the loser doesn't fall into oblivion, as it will be the first loss for either competitor. Machida would have to work his way into another shot should he lose, but Evans would be, at most, two fights away from another shot at the strap. Of course, that logic brings Rampage Jackson into the question.

Since losing the title to Forrest Griffin at UFC 86, Rampage has disposed of top tier contenders Wanderlei Silva and Keith Jardine, giving him a valid claim to the #1 contender spot. But what of the original Ultimate Fighter?

Griffin falls into the same former champion lineage as Jackson, with this fight against Silva being his first since dropping the light heavyweight title to Evans at Ultimate 2008. Beating the "best pound-for-pound fighter in the world" would certainly make Griffin #1-A in the title picture, potentially setting up an outstanding rematch with Rampage.

Where would that leave Silva though? A loss removes all serious interest in Anderson Silva fighting at 205, as he would fall behind the aforementioned contenders and be faced with the prospect of fights with the likes of Keith Jardine and Rich Franklin. Sure, he's still got the middleweight belt, but he's cleaned out the division and seems bored fighting at 185.

That being said, Silva's destruction of James Irvin was impressive enough to merit the step up in competition and if the Anderson Silva who tore through the middleweight division shows up inside the cage, there is no reason to believe another win at 205 would be far behind.

Two wins, including one over a former champion, and a lot of name recognition seems like it would be enough to put "The Spider" into the title picture. Except that there is no way he would ever fight Lyoto Machida, should "The Dragon" defeat Evans later this month.

He'd have beaten a legitimate title contender and have no where to go, except into another fight that would only further muddle the murky light heavyweight title picture or back down to 185 where he seems to have no interest in putting on a good fight.

While this is certainly a fight that fans - myself included - are very excited to see, no matter how it plays out, the UFC is left with far more questions than answers and that is never a good thing.

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