Earlier today, Kevin Iole of Yahoo! Sports extended the news broken by Tatame.com that Vitor Belfort has sustained a shoulder injury and will not compete against Anderson Silva at UFC 112 for the UFC middleweight title.
The highly anticipated card is scheduled to take place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates and now has one less title fight to ride the wave of hype going into the Middle East.
Fortunately, UFC president Dana White confirmed to Yahoo! Sports that Anderson Silva will indeed stay on the card. Who that next opponent will be is unknown at this point.
Let us consider the options.
First, Chael Sonnen is now considered to be the number one contender to the middleweight title. No one cares to see that fight happen yet, including Silva and his manager, Ed Soares.
After Sonnen, you can consider Demain Maia but this takes away from Sonnen’s recent climb in the rankings and appears a bit unfair if set up by the UFC.
What options does the UFC have other than in the coveted light-heavyweight division? Everyone wants to see how Silva does against the best 205-pounders in the world.
After his decimation of former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 101, Silva made a huge statement about being the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet. With Belfort now out of their middleweight title bout, it makes more sense to put Silva in with someone at 205 than it does at 185.
Randy Couture recently proved that he is yet to be a senior citizen at UFC 109 when he beat Mark Coleman. He could easily step into the cut two months from now and give Silva a decent run in April.
This particular fight could be useful for Couture to see if he can still contend with the top fighters in the world. Beating Coleman proved that he is not an old man but the question still looms about if he is a top light-heavyweight. A match with Silva could prove that.
If not Couture, why not keep it in the Brazilian family with a fight with Thiago Silva?
A fight with Anderson could set up a revenge fight for Thiago since he was beaten handily by another Blackhouse fighter, current light-heavyweight champ Lyoto Machida. Getting back into title contention is Thiago’s main goal and a win over the middleweight champion would definitely help do that.
On the other side, if Thiago loses to Anderson it could send him farther down the rankings than he already is, so maybe not.
If no other candidates fit the bill at light-heavyweight, either Rampage Jackson or Rashad Evans can step up and fill the gap left by Belfort and still make their fight for later this Summer.
It won’t hurt the UFC by postponing the Jackson-Evans fight a couple more months. Fans have waited this long, why not wait a little bit longer and get a marquee fight in April? Imagine if one of them lost to Silva. It would create more material for one to use when talking trash to the other.
Ultimately, if Anderson Silva is pulled from the card it will be a huge let down for the UFC’s premiere in the Middle East. A 205-pound fight can solve that problem and shake things up a little.