Muddied Middleweight Waters

By E. Spencer Kyte (espencerkyte@mmaratings.net)

Wanderlei Silva is getting a lot of attention heading into his catchweight tilt with Rich Franklin at UFC 99 this weekend in Germany. While “The Axe Murderer” certainly isn’t looking past this fight, he’s got his eyes on a bigger prize and it could make the UFC Middleweight division even more complicated than it already is.

Anderson Silva is the undisputed king of the 185 class. He hasn’t been beaten since Christ was a cowboy, and he’s been so thoroughly underwhelmed by his most recent opponents in the division that he’s once again stepping up to the light heavyweight ranks, where he’s sure to get a stern test in the former of “The Original Ultimate Fighter,” Forrest Griffin.

The complications come from determining just who is next in line for Silva when he defends the Middleweight title again.

Wanderlei Silva has publicly stated his desire to fight his former Chute Box teammate, largely out of anger with the champ’s decision to help his opponent this weekend train for their fight. Wanderlei sees this as a slap in the face, and you can’t really blame him, can you? So many guys object to fighting their friends and training partners. Then someone you’ve worked with in the past goes and helps your competition? That’s a hard pill to swallow.

But Wandi isn’t the only one who is looking for a title shot.

It was widely believed that the UFC 102 tilt between jiu jitsu master Demian Maia and former King of Pancrase Nate “The Great” Marquardt was a #1 Contenders match with the winner getting the next crack at Anderson Silva’s belt. Whoever comes out on top could certainly make a strong case for being next in line.

Then, reports circulated that Michael Bisping may or may not have been told that a win over fellow TUF 9 coach Dan Henderson would secure him a chance to fight for the strap, possibly even in his backyard.

And what about Hendo? While he’s already lost to Silva in the past, you know the former Pride Welterweight and Middleweight champ isn’t sticking around at 185 to play Gatekeeper to the division. He too has said he wants another kick at the can and since his loss to Silva, he’s done nothing but demonstrate that he too is deserving.

Which brings us back to where we began with “The Axe Murderer.”

While I am unquestionably a huge fan of the exciting brand of fighting Wanderlei Silva brings to the cage, he’s coming off a brutal loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and has lost four of his last five. A win over Franklin and a permanent move down to 185 would certainly put him in the mix, it shouldn’t put him anywhere near a title shot.

Here’s how I think things should go down if Silva gets the win this weekend:

  • Fight #1 – Anderson Silva fights the winner of Marquardt vs. Maia
  • Fight #2 – The winner of Bisping versus Henderson gets Wanderlei in his first fight at 185
  • Fight #3 – Winner Fight #1 versus Winner Fight #2

Sounds good to me.

What do you think?

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?