Following UFC 95, questions soon arose regarding contendership in every single division. Paulo Thiago, Dan Hardy and Paul Kelly jumped significantly in the welterweight division. Junior Dos Santos, a heavyweight, proved he was no fluke in his second straight KO. Diego Sanchez and Terry Etim improved their stock in the lightweight division, but the most impacted division had to be the middleweights.
Demian Maia and Nate Marquardt both put on amazing performances, each knowing prior to their fight they were battling for position to get a title shot. Maia made Sonnen look like a white belt, and Marquardt had a video game finish that will be on numerous highlight reels to come.
They both plead strong cases, but it looks like they’ll have to wait. According to this Sun report (if they can be believed) with UFC voice Mike Goldberg, Michael Bisping isn’t the only fighter at UFC 100 who can earn himself a title shot against Silva. Apparently, opposing TUF 9 coach Dan Henderson will earn himself a second chance at Anderson should he pull out the victory against Bisping.
His next challenger comes in the form of fellow countryman Thales Leites at UFC 97, and, should he come through that test, Silva will face the winner of July’s Henderson and Bisping clash.
I don’t care if I end up looking stupid but I am absolutely going to assume that Silva is going to smash Leites, or even might get bored and submit him. After that, I would rather see him defend once more against Demian Maia, vacate the belt, and make a permanent jump to a real payday at 205. Knowing Silva and how loyal he is, he will continue to defend as long as Dana is asking him too.
Maia, in my mind would give the stiffest test. His BJJ is from another world. Silva is a black belt himself but Maia would most likely have his way on the ground. I just don’t know what is going to be able to stop the guy. He pulls guard at will, and every single day his stand up has to be improving. If he really needs to win one more fight I say give him Yushin Okami, another guy that people feel should get a title shot, he is without a doubt the most boring fighter in the world, and I would love nothing more than for Maia to choke him unconscious. After that, maybe Silva is still around at 185, maybe not, but either way, Maia is coming for that belt, and he will get it before 2010 ends.
If Henderson wins, I am not that excited about a rematch at all. Sure Henderson won the first round, but its not like he had Anderson in any trouble. Just some standard slow paced ground and pound that was borderline lay-n-pray. It is pretty obvious in this point of Henderson’s career what his style is going to be. Huge right hands, clinch work, throws and a solid top game. He has no kicks to speak of, pretty average technical boxing skills, and a very average guard. I honestly believe Leites will be a bigger test than a rematch with Henderson would be.
If Bisping wins, than I believe we have a real fight on our hands. Bisping has progressed immensely since his drop to middleweight. His quickness and technicality in his striking is some of the best in MMA. He can work angles, uses great footwork along with superior conditioning to wear you down, and eventually out. Against Silva his challenge will be the stiffest he has ever faced, if he finishes Henderson he might come in with just enough confidence and skill to give Silva a real run for the strap. Once again, the most likely scenario would be Silva is able to neutralize Bisping’s offense until he can land that straight left, which almost always drops you off at queer street.
What Silva is doing is absolutely something to marvel at, but it is time for him to really challenge himself, and that can only happen at 205. Just imagine some of these, Rampage vs. Silva, Chuck vs. Silva, Rashad vs. Silva, Griffin vs. Silva. Every single one of those would pull awesome pay-per-view numbers, something fights at 185lbs simply cannot bring these days.