WoW! I know we're buddies and all, but I can't believe Dana actually listens to every single word I say!http://www.mmawriter.com/?p=7
UFC Caught in the Spider’s Web
October 26th, 2007
After another dominant performance at UFC 77, in which he destroyed Rich Franklin in a rematch of last year’s title-winning effort, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson ‘Spider’ Silva finds himself at the top of the food chain. The problem facing the UFC is finding the flies to feed him.
Although many predicted that Silva would defeat Franklin in their rematch, no one could have imagined the ease in which Silva was able to dominate every aspect of the match. When Franklin’s takedown of Silva brought the crowd to its feet halfway through the first round, Silva calmly demonstrated the ease in which he can maneuver those daddy long legs from butterfly guard to a standing position. When Franklin landed a straight left to his opponent’s face, Silva simply smiled, and when the hometown favorite tried to let loose a multiple punch combination, Silva bobbed and weaved making Franklin look like a wild and flailing rank amateur. And of course, when Franklin entered the ‘Spider’s Web’ – a space consisting of any area within three cubic feet of Anderson’s hands or feet – Silva’s punches, knees, and kicks landed with such force and accuracy as to make fans wince in pain, and future opponents go into hiding.
The middleweight division has some very talented young fighters, but who can the UFC match up with Silva that won’t appear to be a sacrifice at the altar? The most obvious choice is Yushin Okami. Stylistically, he matches up fairly well against Silva. Okami is a conservative, thinking fighter, with a solid ground game and good boxing skills. The problem with such a match-up is two-fold: Neither the fans nor the UFC want to see this fight happen. The fans don’t want it because there is no one to root for. Despite being very nice gentlemen, in addition to not speaking fluent English, neither fighter has an outstanding personality to speak of. The UFC doesn’t want it because, marketing nightmares aside, in the off-chance that Okami wins, the UFC would actually be left with a less marketable champion than Silva. So that rules out Okami.
At the post-fight press conference, UFC President Dana White mentioned David Terrell and Ricardo Almeida as potential challengers, but the last most people remember of either guy is them getting blasted out of the UFC by Evan Tanner and Andrei Semenov, respectively. So let’s move on.
Which brings us to the only possible opponent under UFC contract that really makes sense: Dan Henderson. Despite’s Dana’s claim that Henderson wants to stay at light-heavyweight, other than a rematch with Quinton Jackson, what is there at 205 for ‘Hollywood’? By fighting anyone other than Jackson, Henderson risks his reputation with little reward. A title shot against Silva, however, is both a UFC and fans’ dream come true. Just imagine the build-up to Silva-Henderson: The patriotic United States Olympic wrestler dropping twenty pounds to avenge his fellow countryman’s defeat on the Octagon battleground. Selling out an arena in Cincinnati or Columbus? They could sell out Ohio State’s Horseshoe Stadium with that one.
Of course, who can blame Henderson for wanting to stay at light-heavyweight? For one thing, the man has probably been cutting weight for thirty years. At this point in his life, why starve himself unless the UFC steps up to his plate with $omething el$e he can get fat on. Even aside from the weight loss, it’s hard to imagine that Henderson is losing any sleep at night salivating at the thought of stepping into the Octagon with Silva. Henderson has never backed away from a challenge in his life, but after watching Silva display his wide arsenal of weapons against Franklin for the second time, who can really blame Dan for sitting on his haunches?
And then, there are the young contenders to consider. Patrick Cote, coming off a knockout of Kendall Grove, is probably still a few fights away. Alan Belcher, who looked tremendous stopping Kalib Starnes, lost his previous fight to Grove, and still needs a big win over a fellow contender to merit serious consideration as a possible title challenger. An improved Chris Leben, who ousted Terry Martin last time out, already suffered a quick and brutal KO to Silva and wouldn’t appear to be in line for a rematch anytime soon.
All of which brings us to one final appetite-whetting idea: Get Dana White’s mortal enemy and nemesis, former UFC Middleweight Champion, and MMA legend Frank Shamrock back in the Octagon. Shamrock, coming off a PPV destruction of former UFC fan favorite Phil Baroni, is still fresh in people’s minds. And if Silva-Okami is a lose-lose proposition for the UFC and fans, Silva-Shamrock is about as win-win as it gets: If Silva destroys Shamrock, Dana White’s champion single-handedly obliterates Shamrock’s mythical status and renders all future Shamrock fights an afterthought; however, if Shamrock wins, the money the UFC will make off Shamrock title defenses should more than make up for the difficulties in doing business with Frank.
In a nutshell, the UFC finds itself and their middleweight champion stuck in a web of their own making. The only way out is to look at the menu, open up that fat wallet and buy themselves a legitimate title contender. Because the fans won’t accept anything less. And the UFC doesn’t want to feed Anderson Silva the Chump du Jour. Henderson. Shamrock. Mmmmmmm. Now that’s something we can chew on.