If you buy into the hype machine that is Chael Sonnen, then you believe middleweight champion Anderson Silva has been faking his shoulder injury, while turning down a rematch with Sonnen multiple times over the last year.

Whether there’s any truth to Sonnen’s rants, no one really knows; however, it leads to some interesting speculation that could be setting the stage for Silva’s swan song.

A soccer stadium, packed with 80,000 rabid fans in Silva’s home country of Brazil could be the stage for the last fight of the middleweight kingpin’s career.

Of course, that’s nothing more than the aforementioned speculation, but, a loss to rival Sonnen could certainly be all that Silva needs to push him into retirement.

Chael Sonnen has faced a number of the division's elite (Sherdog)

Just 10 days shy of his 37th birthday, Silva has nothing left to prove. He’s reigned supreme in both the middleweight and pound-for-pound rankings for years. Undefeated inside the Octagon, he’s compiled a 15-fight winning streak dating back to 2006, has a 31-4 overall record and is arguably the best mixed martial artist the young sport has ever seen.

Couple Silva’s successes with an aging body, nagging injuries and a young, growing family with a loss, and Silva may decide to may ride off into the Brazilian sun, knowing his best days are behind him.

So, should Sonnen pull off the upset in Brazil, where would that leave the current state of the middleweight division?

It’s likely a foregone conclusion that should Silva decide he wants to continue his storied career, he’ll be granted an immediate rematch. UFC President Dana White has never shied away from expressing his admiration of the champ, so Silva’s wish will likely be the boss’s command.

Should UFC 147 prove to be the end of the road for Silva, the middleweight picture may appear a bit fuzzy, leaving many to wonder what would be next for Sonnen.

The easy answer is Mark Munoz. Munoz, was set to face off against Sonnen in January at UFC on Fox 2, when an elbow injury that required surgery forced him to withdraw from the bout.  According to Munoz’s twitter, he’s recently resumed training, but there is no word on when his next fight will be. Riding a four-fight win streak, that includes victories over Demian Maia and Chris Leben, Munoz appears primed for a title shot.

Chris Weidman is part of the next generation of the 185-pound division (James Escher/Newsday)

Should the UFC brass decide that Munoz needs another fight before being tossed into a title bout, Vitor Belfort could be next in line for a shot at Sonnen. Should Belfort come out victorious in his tilt with fellow coach on The Ultimate Fighter Brazil, Wanderlei Silva, also at UFC 147, “The Phenom” could certainly find himself back in the title mix. With only one loss, coming at the hands of the current champ, since 2007, Belfort could prove to be a very interesting matchup for Sonnen.

Regardless of who is next in line for a shot at the middleweight belt, or who is victorious in the main event at UFC 147, there are plenty of fresh faces waiting to emerge as legitimate contenders.

Chris Weidman is undefeated in his professional career, and seems destined for UFC greatness. Brian Stann is the epitome of the word “hero” and has only been stopped once since dropping to middleweight. Rousimar Palhares is a submission ace that would be looking to keep the middleweight belt around the waist of a Brazilian. Any one of them could challenge for a title in the next year.

Silva has been the champion for nearly six years. As with all things in life — and to quote the band Semisonic — every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. Should Silva’s reign and his career come to an end, there are many young faces in the middleweight picture looking for their new beginning.

Top Photo: Anderson Silva (R) knocks out Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 (James Law/Heavy MMA)

About The Author

Paige Berger

Relatively new to the sport of MMA, Paige is a life long athlete. She attended the National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, N.Y., where she was a pioneer member of the women's ice hockey program. She also excelled in softball and soccer before deciding to focus on hockey. Born and raised in New York, she is an avid Yankees fan. Currently residing in Las Vegas, a move she made after falling in love with MMA while training at the American Kickboxing Academy in San Jose, Calif., she is currently studying public relations and advertising at UNLV.

  • Tuan

    What exciting times for the Middleweight division! If Sonnen does pull off the upset, it will be very interesting on what Silva’s next move would be. I personally think that Sonnen will be submitted again and excited to see Silva face any of the deserving contenders. Where do you think Bisping fall into the mix? He looked good against Sonnen…