Which fights would you prioritize for Anderson Silva if he only has two or three more fights left?
NOTE: We asked this question of our team before Anderson Silva vs. Kelvin Gastelum, but check out our choices for Silva compared to what UFC announced…
MICHAEL GROCKE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
The Anderson Silva who has won one fight over his last six isn’t the Anderson Silva I want to see, or remember. Personally, I would have liked to see Silva announce his retirement after he was gifted the decision over Derek Brunson at UFC 208. But, since it looks as though he wants to continue fighting, booking his next fight isn’t easy.
I have no desire to see him fight anyone in the Top 10 of the Middleweight Division. A fight I’d like to see would be Anderson vs. Vitor Belfort. A rematch gives Belfort the opportunity to avenge his first round defeat back in February 2011 at UFC 126. For Anderson, it gives him an opponent closest to his age and skills. The UFC currently have Silva and Belfort ranked no. 7 and no. 8 respectively, but I think those rankings are generous.
MICHAEL HISCOE, MMATORCH CONTRIBUTOR
Cung Le: Now I know that he’s retired, and at odds with the UFC, but that doesn’t change the fact that a fight between the two would be a video game style fight, even at their advanced ages. Despite his controversial win, Silva looked older than ever in the Brunson fight. He appeared slower, and less creative, which leaves me wondering if he is still even capable of fulling off the high-level techniques that helped make him famous. His chances against anybody in the top 10 are questionable, not to say he wouldn’t win, but who wants to see Silva vs. Souza, or even somebody like Robert Whitaker, when it could possibly end in a humbling loss for the former longtime division king pin. Personally, I just want to see him in fun fights, were he can do his thing against a reasonable opponent. At 44, and with the situation as it is, this fight surely won’t happen. But I’m allowed to dream.
Rashad Evans: A time existed when I thought that Rashad was destined to end Silva’s title reign, but alas, as I often am, I was wrong. But that doesn’t mean that the fight wouldn’t be interesting, even if the time for it was a few years ago. Evans is dropping to 185 for the first time, against a game but beatable opponent, in Australian Judoka, Dan Kelly. Should he win, a fight with Silva could be fun. It’s a relevant fight simply because of name value, and could easily fill a spot on a main card somewhere. Neither is likely to ever challenge for another title, and I think this fight is perfect for where each man is in his career.
Georges St. Pierre: This fight makes a lot of sense for GSPs first fight back. He is smart and likely knows that ring rust could be an issue. A fight with Silva is always dangerous, but it’s a huge, and winnable fight for GSP. It also gives Silva a chance to get the biggest scalp that he can at this stage of his career. A win of GSP would push his legacy even farther up the ladder, that he already sits at the top of. This is a fight between two of, if not the two best, fighters in MMA history. Somebody should make it happen.
WADE KELLER, MMATORCH EDITOR
I have the advantage of adding my thoughts after the Kelvin Gastelum fight was announced, and I like this fight a lot. I like the idea of Silva, for now (because he has looked good enough lately to still be relevant, for sure) being a gate keeper for young talent. UFC has to be careful about only booking big name draws against each other, and letting fighters dictate that. The way to create new stars is having them fight existing stars and either have great competitive fights or win, or both. Gastelum vs. Silva has a chance to be that. If Gastelum wins decisively, people will question whether it counts for much or if Silva is just washed up, so he probably has more to lose than gain in that respect. But Gastelum will become more of a “household name” amongst the second tier of MMA fans who make the difference between a low butyrate and solid butyrate on PPV, or a weak TV rating and good rating on FS1 or Fox.
Silva, though, was too good for too long, and his losses and latest win were competitive fights (remember how close we were to him having defeating the current champ Michael Bisping and how different the Silva narrative would be right now had the fight been stopped at that point) to write him off as washed up. Sometimes it’s obvious when fighters are washed up, and there’s a lot about Silva’s game that requires youthful speed and precision and reflexes, but there’s a lot about Silva’s game that can survive into his 40s, including his nearly unmatched fight IQ. He’s had tentative boring fights during his long Middleweight reign. Remember the boos from fans because they wanted him to engage more? It’s not like he went from blitzing people from the get-go like Vitor Belfort early in his career to holding back out of fear or weakness. So I want to see more of what Silva has, and I don’t buy his humble talk of being an old man. I think he’s trying lull opponents and lower expectations so he can capitalize.
If he looks really good in beating a young star on the rise in his prime like Gastelum, then I don’t have a strong aversion to putting him against a top five contender. Again, one of the reasons is that it can elevate a Yoel Romero if he gets a signature win over a legend, but it also gives Anderson the courtesy of having a chance to prove he’s still a top-top contender against a favored younger fighter. If Silva loses to Gastelum, then I’ll shift to “legends fight” or “special attraction” mode for him, or having him face no. 12 contenders looking for a meaningful win. Not yet, though.
And finally, there’s still some hope that it’ll make sense at the box office and for GSP and Silva to have a fight against each other. I don’t know if it’ll be a “novelty dream match” for two legends not in contention or if it’ll be a relevant fight for two fighters making comeback. Either way, I hope it’ll make sense and happen.
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