Thursday’s upload of “MMA Live” brings with it a discussion of Anderson Silva’s future as a hybrid-weight athlete. I won’t spoil the dialogue for you, but there is indication from some idiot blogger that there’s no small degree of futility in Silva picking off contenders at 205 pounds when he has no intention of vying for friend Lyoto Machida’s belt.
Taking it a few steps further:
1. Let’s say the UFC was able -- through strong-arming and coercing worthy of a Kung Fu flick -- to push Machida and Silva into a bout. With their reluctance well-documented, can you imagine the level of hyper-analysis that would follow their every move? Say one gets knocked down with a stiff jab -- or worse, someone torques an ankle or knee. Happens all the time. But if it happens in the context of two reluctant sparring partners in a prizefight neither wanted, there would be no end of speculation over the potential for choreography.
2. Silva bouncing from class to class ignores the obligation he has to defend his 185-pound belt. This sport has a serious problem taking its titles seriously. B.J. Penn went more than a year between lightweight defenses so he could fight Georges St. Pierre; Cung Le’s Strikeforce strap is a dull, rusted antique after spending nearly 18 months on the shelf.
Contenders push themselves with the expectation they’ll be afforded an opportunity to face their divisional leader in a timely fashion. When Silva ignores Dan Henderson or Demian Maia in order to take random bids at 205, those men lose opportunities to monetize title bids with sponsorships and main-event revenue sharing (where applicable).
And that’s just the financial hurt. Most athletes are genuinely interested in fighting for personal pride. Their careers shouldn’t be victimized by a volleying champion.
3. Both Silva and Machida are proper counter-strikers who know the other’s game very well. It’s a fight that could easily sedate viewers.
4. A lot of this discussion centers on MMA being a sport like any other. If two grandmasters in chess happen to be close friends, they’ll still compete. Brothers oppose each other in football. MMA is just another competition.
Except it’s not. The emotional consequences of hitting your best friend in the face are slightly more complex than taking a pawn from him. We like to think of fighting as a pure athletic activity, but it’s far more impactful than that. No one is eager to inflict pain on a close friend. (Exception: Joe and Dan Lauzon would fight. Sure as hell.)
I don’t think we’ll have a hint of Anderson Silva’s next move until Maia and Nate Marquardt exit the ring August 29. If Maia wins, an 11-0 record and a win over a top 10 middleweight is enough to earn the opportunity. If not, Dan Henderson just needs a date and a ride to the arena.
I especially agree with #2. The reason Dana makes people wait until their division is cleared out is not to prove their dominance but to make sure they can afford to take the time off while he grooms another contender. Silva's got at least 2, maybe 3 guys he needs to face (Maia, Hendo, Nate) at MW & Lyoto's got a stretching out the door & around the block waiting on him.