LAS VEGAS – By vanquishing chief rival Chael Sonnen at Saturday night’s UFC 148 event, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (32-4 MMA, 15-0 UFC) moved one step closer to cleaning out the company’s 185-pound division.
In the past, every Silva win meant post-fight questions regarding a potential bout with welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, but nowadays, MMA fans and pundits alike only want to know if “The Spider” will ever face 205-pound titleholder Jon Jones.
Both Silva and Jones have expressed no interest in such a superfight, but UFC president Dana White doesn’t seem quite so sure.
“He said he wouldn’t fight Chael again, either,” White said with a smile following Saturday night’s post-event press conference.
Silva, of course, first defeated Sonnen in August 2010 at UFC 117. Sonnen then spent the next two years berating Silva, his family and his countrymen until finally earning a rematch in the headliner of Saturday’s UFC 148 event, which took place at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Garden Arena and aired on pay-per-view. Of course, Silva only accepted the fight after ample encouragement from the UFC boss, who admitted Silva wanted no part of granting Sonnen the limelight that came along with a rematch.
White admitted he’s been forced to take similar actions in the past, including Silva’s previous forays to light heavyweight in wins over Forrest Griffin and James Irvin.
“The two times he went to 205, it wasn’t because he wanted to,” White said. “It was because I asked him to.”
White and Silva haven’t always been on the best of terms. The champ’s infamous UFC 112 win over Demian Maia left the UFC boss so frustrated he threatened to cut his champion, even after a win. However, the UFC boss insisted on Saturday that he has the utmost respect for Silva and actually enjoys the process of determining his future matchups.
“Anderson is such a unique guy to deal with,” White said. “It’s such a different process when I’m dealing with this guy. I respect him so much. I swear to God, it’s like dealing with an artist. It’s like dealing with an artist or some big, crazy-talented actor.
“But I love being involved in every aspect of the business with this guy. I love to watch him fight. I love the anticipation and the build-up. To watch this guy do what he does is seriously one of my favorite [expletive] parts of my job. I love it. This guy is my favorite fighter. He really is. And as hard as he is to deal with, I just love it. I love dealing with him.”
But with Silva’s incredible track record in the octagon – 15-consecutive wins and an unparalleled 10 successful defenses of the middleweight belt – many fans are concerned there are simply no realistic challenges remaining for the champ at 185 pounds.
White is quick to point out names such as Michael Bisping, Hector Lombard and Mark Munoz as potential future opponents for Silva and also thinks there’s something to be said for a fighter who continuously devours his competition.
“He’s our Mike Tyson,” White said. “The guy is unstoppable, unbeatable. Now it’s like, ‘Who can challenge him? Who can beat him?’ I don’t know. Let’s find out. The first time they fought, no one thought Chael would do that.”
But if those names are scratched off the list, as well, and if Jones gets by Dan Henderson in September and then whoever else the UFC deems fit at 205 pounds, is a potential Silva vs. Jones superfight at least a possibility, despite the two champions’ insistence that they’re not interested?
“Let’s see what happens,” White said with a wry smile.