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Anderson Silva and his hold on the UFC Middleweight Division
By Christopher ‘sLapDatSuCKa’ Jester
As one division in the UFC finally settles with its champion returning, another division is likely to be placed on hold with its champion deciding not to fight until the end of 2013. Middleweight champion Anderson Silva has recently announced that he plans on taking a vacation from fighting. With personal and business responsibilities, Silva looks to take off time to address several other important factors in his life. However, what will this do to the UFC’s middleweight division?
The UFC already had a prime example of what this means. Another champion also put his division on hold; albeit it was for medical reasons. Georges St-Pierre, the UFC welterweight champion, returns to the Octagon to fight interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit on November 17th after more than a year away from the sport due to an ACL injury. Since then, the welterweight division has limped on by – attempting to find matches that made some relevance. It was not easy, as Georges St. Pierre is one of the sport’s biggest stars. The division went on to find an interim champion in Carlos Condit after he defeated Nick Diaz.
If Anderson Silva is serious about taking some time off, this can be detrimental to the division, which has a couple of worthy contenders begging for a title shot. This comes off a bit strange since the Silva-GSP superfight matchup was rumored to come into fruition if St. Pierre defeats Carlos Condit at UFC 154. Some went as far as saying that Anderson Silva would challenge St. Pierre if he was to win, although Silva mentioned that this is not true. With an acting gig and the opening of a gym, Silva has stated he won’t have much time to defend a title. However, Anderson Silva is famous for saying this and then deciding to return when needed.
Such a hefty time away from the Octagon would not do the UFC any favors, though. With the Chris Weidman versus Tim Boetsch fight coming up, the UFC should have a #1 contender in the winner of that fight. But, what will the winner have to look forward to if the champion is going to be away for nearly a year? Nothing unless the UFC does something about it.
People criticize the use of “interim titles”, but at this point, a worthy contender should not have to wait or to continue fighting until the champion returns on his terms. That is a bit absurd. Weidman or Boetsch, regardless of the winner, would have true legitimacy to the title. Each man is on a bona fide winning streak in the middleweight division.
Another man who calls for such a move is Michael Bisping. However, the infamous Brit is calling for such a move for his next fight against Vitor Belfort at UFC on FX 7 on January 19th. An interim title bout between the two may seem a bit farfetched but the UFC has made stranger decisions. The two fighters have smaller streaks in the middleweight division, but are two of the biggest draws in the division.
The Weidman-Boetsch winner should then face the winner of the interim bout. After that matchup, a true #1 contender for middleweight champion Anderson Silva would create the perfect matchup. Plus, it would add to a year’s worth of buildup.
The UFC cannot suffer another downtime in one of their more popular divisions. Anderson Silva taking time away from the UFC is fine; in fact at this point in his career and what he has accomplished, he deserves it. But the show must go on as well. Bisping’s idea about an interim title may not be a bad idea. This would continue the division and set up a worthy contender; this is what Silva has asked for. The UFC should make this move while it is available, or talk Silva into returning to his division earlier than expected.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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