Anderson Silva faces Yushin Okami in defense of his UFC Middleweight Championship tomorrow night at UFC 134. The Japanese powerhouse represents not only an underrated contender for Silva’s crown, but the challenger may also be the last victory required for an Anderson Silva clear-out of the UFC middleweight division.
If Silva clears the Okami obstacle, he will be potentially looking at rematches from here out within his division. Chael Sonnen will face the heavy-hitting Brian Stann for the next contender spot at October’s UFC 136, and from there it is anyone’s guess. There has been conjecture as of late that he may actually rematch Strikeforce Light-Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson on the promotion’s upcoming Fox premier in November.
Given the three month time-frame which allows for a proper training camp, and given Silva’s familiar means of dispatching opponents quickly, many believed if the champion came through UFC 134 unscathed, he may serve as ambassador for the company’s first FOX broadcast. In an interview with Ariel Helwani, UFC President Dana White refuted this speculation.
“I saw that rumor,” admitted White. “I was cruising around on the internet and saw that. It’s not true. If he goes out and wins in thirteen seconds, he’s not considered for the FOX show.”
There have even been whispers of retirement for Silva, though this seems unlikely for at least the immediate future. Not only is Anderson possibly the best he has ever been, but the Brazilian has just signed a litany of mainstream endorsement deals, adding Burger King and Nike, among others, to his sponsorship stable. Dana White also addressed retirement as well as the champion’s age.
“He hasn’t talked about retiring,” White said. “What a lot of people don’t realize about Anderson, because of how talented he is, this guy is 36 years old, going on 37. To still do the things he does is amazing.”
The world will wait and see. He may start fielding rematches. Sonnen, Belfort, or even Chris Leben could fit that bill. There is Michael Bisping always on the horizon. An oft-teased superfight with Georges St-Pierre seems unlikely at this point, and though Silva has looked phenomenal during his two forays to 205 pounds, Anderson seems uninspired to move up full-time. Such a decision would allow Silva to fight champion Jon Jones and also entertain interesting match-ups with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, or Rashad Evans.
Anderson Silva’s path will become more clear in the coming weeks, but the most important detail to keep in mind is that all of this talk dissipates with a loss to Yushin Okami tomorrow night. Okami is the last man to hold a victory over ‘the Spider,’ and despite the popular consensus, Okami is a serious contender with the tools to stop the aura of invincibility in its tracks.
You can watch the interview with White below: