With Vitor Belfort undergoing successful shoulder surgery earlier this week, Anderson Silva and the UFC are frantically searching for a new opponent to help save UFC 112 after Dana White confirmed Silva would still defend his middleweight title in Abu Dhabi.
With less than eight weeks before showtime, let’s take a look at five potential options for the UFC that have made their way through the Internet rumor mill.
Even though White stated they intend to keep Silva in a title fight, pickings for a blockbuster 185-pound opponent are slim due to what took place this weekend at UFC 109. Not only because of former middleweight top contender Nate Marquardt’s humbling loss to Chael Sonnen, but the massive cut Sonnen sustained on his forehead as well.
So, how about we throw a UFC Hall of Fame light heavyweight in the mix just for kicks?
Scenario 1: Randy Couture – This has the least potential of happening, but it’s a valid option that was recently brought up. If Black House teammate Lyoto Machida ever loses his light heavyweight belt, Silva has made it clear he would love to simultaneously hold the UFC title in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions.
A win over Couture would immediately put Silva in the title picture at 205-pounds, even though many, including 5thRound.com, already consider him the #2 light heavyweight in the world. The problem is it would be an extremely quick turnaround for the soon-to-be 47-year-old Couture, who just beat Mark Coleman at UFC 109 this weekend.
Scenario 2: Alan Belcher – People may not consider Belcher a legit title contender, but he’s compiled a 3-1 record in his last four Octagon fights as he’s posted wins over Ed Herman, Denis Kang and Wilson Gouveia. However, he also dropped a narrow decision to Yoshihiro Akiyama during that run.
Belcher would allow for an entertaining bout with Silva because he’d be willing to stand and trade with him, something most of the sane world is scared to do. This bout obviously wouldn’t have the same starpower as a lot of other matchups, but isn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities.
Scenario 3: Demian Maia – Although he probably won’t be cleared to fight until sometime in August because of a cut on his eyelid, John Morgan of MMAJunkie pointed out that it’s possible for him to get the go-ahead earlier. Maia’s only loss came against Marquardt, which dropped him a few pegs in the middleweight division, but he still holds wins over Nate Quarry, Dan Miller and most importantly Chael Sonnen.
A bout with Maia would be intriguing since Maia has great Jiu-Jitsu paired with solid striking ability, for a world champion BJJ practitioner that is.
Scenario 4: Yoshihiro Akiyama – Sexiyama’s name has been thrown out there and it has some potential. Although he’s a smaller middleweight, he’s willing to go to war every time out. The Japanese sensation has only lost once in his career and won his UFC debut against the aforementioned Belcher at UFC 100.
A fight with Akiyama would also allow for the UFC to continue their push into Japan and further extend their worldwide footprint.
Scenario 5: Chael Sonnen – This is clearly the guy the UFC, and most fans for that matter, want to step in for Belfort, but the only problem is that he can’t spar until March 9th and the earliest he could be cleared is March 24th. Sonnen is coming off a dominating victory over Marquardt so the fans are sold since last weekend’s shellacking is still fresh in their minds.
It would also allow the UFC to sell Silva’s title defense as “legitimate” since Sonnen was getting the next shot anyways.
The extravaganza is set to jump off on April 10th. The clock is ticking Mr. Dana White …