A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece breaking down the UFC’s summer events. In that piece, I highlighted UFC 162 as one of the most anticipated MMA events in 2013. It had the greatest fighter ever in Anderson Silva, I said, taking on one of his most challenging challenges to date in Chris Weidman in the main-event spot of a card that also featured the returns of Frankie Edgar and Mark Muñoz. Of the eight UFC events taking place this summer, UFC 162 was the one I said shouldn’t be missed.

Well, I’m going to be honest with you: I missed it.

Instead of staying home and watching UFC 162 as it happened, I traveled to the carnival of Miller Light, human body odor and ubiquitous marijuana smoke that was the 311 concert at Summerfest in Milwaukee. I had never seen the band live before, despite having listened to them for the better part of 20 years, so when I realized the show conflicted with UFC 162, the choice wasn’t a difficult one. Nevertheless, the decision also brought with it a need to ignore all social media outlets and sports-related television until the following morning.

I almost did it, too. It wasn’t until after the show when, on my second Brandy Old Fashioned at a nearby bar, I glanced at a monitor airing SportsCenter and saw something about a second-round knockout crawl across the bottom of the screen. I immediately turned my head away and tried to forget what I saw (or rationalize that it was the result of a non-main-event fight), but, of course, I couldn’t help but think “Oh … it looks like Silva knocked out Weidman in the second tonight.” Beyond that little blurb, the results of UFC 162 successfully remained a mystery to me through the night.

I got back to Madison on Sunday at about 3 a.m. and was needless to say in zero condition to stay up any longer than I had. After an appropriate amount of sleep, then, I ordered a replay of UFC 162 for a little afternoon viewing. I watched Cub Swanson earn an impressive victory over Dennis Siver, saw Mark Muñoz successfully get his groove back in the Octagon, and witnessed Frankie Edgar’s triumphant return to the win column after a string of tough losses. Oh yeah, and there was a fight between Tim Kennedy and Roger Gracie.

With no second-round knockout in that group, my assumption of a Silva victory from the previous night seemed even more prescient. It was with that in mind that I settled in for the UFC 162 main event, and that assumption absolutely had an effect on my viewing experience. As I watched Silva clown his way around the cage, not really mounting any sustained offense against Weidman, I thought to myself, “Man…only Anderson Silva could get away with acting like this and still walk away with a knockout.” In fact, Silva’s performance for the first six minutes and 15 seconds of the fight had me already thinking about writing a piece saying there’s no one else Silva should fight other than Jon Jones, since, through his behavior against Weidman and in other recent fights, he displayed an utter disdain for the opposition the UFC was putting in front of him.

As the second round wore on, I kept waiting for the moment when Silva would land the shot that usually starts his opponents on the short path to Knockoutville, but Silva just kept up with the antics. When Weidman connected with the left hand that put Silva on the canvas and finished the job with a few more, I stood up off my couch in an utter state of shock. I almost couldn’t believe what I just saw. “Did Anderson Silva really get knocked out by Chris Weidman right now?” I thought to myself, as if I might still have been dreaming as I slept off the intoxicants from the previous evening. I figured if Weidman was going to pull off a victory, it would be through a 25-minute grind of takedowns and ground control, not a dynamic knockout that catches everyone by complete surprise.

But there stood Weidman, victorious over the greatest MMA fighter of all time via the least-expected method. ESPN’s Chuck Mindenhall summarized the fight’s outcome better than I ever could, and the opinion that Silva lost the fight (as opposed to Weidman winning it) is a popular one in the MMA community this week. I have to say, when Silva was standing in front of Weidman, hands down, daring him to attack, it reminded me a lot of those dudes I occasionally encounter in life who think they’re really tough and ask people to hit them in the face to prove it. Some of those folks can take those punches and just walk away smiling. Once in a while, though, one of those tough guys isn’t as tough as he thinks and ends up taking an unscheduled nap. Usually, Silva is the smiling type. On Saturday night, he was put to sleep.

Talk of a rematch between Silva and Weidman began almost as soon as Herb Dean stopped the new champion from doing any further damage to his deposed and defenseless opponent. A second fight between the two would make sense regardless of Weidman’s method of victory, but the combination of Silva’s pre-knockout antics and Weidman’s unexpected striking success makes the fight all the more enticing. Again, many view the results of UFC 162’s main event as a consequence of Silva’s in-cage choices, rather than because of a more effective game plan implemented by Weidman.

In this way, Silva’s loss to Weidman is a lot like Georges St-Pierre’s 2007 title-fight loss to Matt Serra. Both fights featured heavily favored champions being abruptly knocked off their pedestals by guys who maybe didn’t seem all that dangerous on the feet, and in the aftermath of both fights, many chalked up the result to the winner’s good fortune instead of his legitimate athletic superiority. Serra had the opportunity to prove otherwise in his rematch with GSP, where he was promptly relieved of his UFC welterweight championship by the man who still holds the belt today, and a rematch with Silva would mean just as much for Weidman (who some might say still needs to prove he’s the best middleweight in the world, despite his victory) as it would for the former champion who would, like GSP so many years ago, be looking to avenge an unexpected loss. Although Silva said after his UFC 162 loss that he was done fighting for the middleweight belt and would thus not be interested in a rematch with Weidman, reports to the contrary have emerged in the time since.

Sure, a Silva/Weidman rematch would probably pull excellent box-office and pay-per-view numbers for the UFC and would be one of those rare MMA events that enters the consciousness of the general sport-loving public. UFC President Dana White has talked about maybe having the rematch on Super Bowl Saturday in New Jersey (Weidman’s proverbial backyard) or for the UFC’s first true stadium show, perhaps in the 100,000-plus seat Cowboys Stadium near Dallas, which would certainly raise the company’s profile considerably. Business considerations aside, though, would a Silva/Weidman rematch really be more appealing than one of the Silva superfights that had previously been discussed?

One factor to keep in mind amid all of this discussion is what happens after the hypothetical Silva/Weidman rematch. If Silva wins, there will be the inevitable rubber match, which, given Silva’s recent predilection for long gaps between fights, could put a pause in the middleweight title picture for the foreseeable future. That’s not even considering what would happen if Silva would win the rematch and then immediately retire. Sure, he’s got a lengthy UFC contract, but if he wants to walk away from the sport that made him so famous, he’s going to do it. If Weidman wins the rematch, then we’re in the exact same place we’re in now, only with a need to consider a different future opponent for the champion. Given Silva’s initial disinterest in the fight, wouldn’t the middleweight division be better served in the long-term by putting Weidman up against an opponent who wasn’t previously the 185-pound champion for seven years? Who knows what Silva was thinking as he bounced around the ring in less-than-devastating fashion on July 6, but one thing’s for sure: Weidman would not see such behavior from any other challenger to his belt, which could make for more exciting title fights.

Instead, the UFC should take a(nother) page from the WWE’s book and put Silva in a sort of “legends bracket,” where he only fights against similarly famous fighters with almost no career-related consequences. Once in a while, and especially if the WWE needs to boost pay-per-view buyrates, it’ll trot out a few aging-but-still-marketable stars from years past to either face each other or go up against a current performer of similar popularity. These matches don’t really do anything to move along the company’s overall narrative, but having Brock Lesnar or Triple H (or both) at a pay-per-view event is always worth a few thousand more buys. Why not use Silva in a similar capacity for the remainder of his UFC career?

Yes, the buildup to a Silva/Weidman rematch would be considerable, but Weidman is only now becoming a well-known fighter to casual fans. I would argue, therefore, that a fight between Silva and Jon Jones would, despite Silva’s recent loss, draw similar interest, simply due to the combined caliber of fighter involved in the fight. Say what you want about Silva following his defeat to Weidman, he’s still one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world, and against Jones he’d be taking on the man who now securely occupies that list’s top position. That factor alone makes the fight both intriguing and extremely sellable, certainly more so than the vast majority of fights that could be put together with each fighter individually.

Removing Silva from the middleweight title picture would also open him up for fights with other famous UFC faces like Rashad Evans, Michael Bisping or, if the UFC really wanted to get creative, heavyweights like Josh Barnett, Frank Mir or Junior dos Santos. Of course, the reality of booking any of these fights would be much more complicated than just writing two names down next to each other, but one must admit that they’re at least as appealing as any middleweight fight featuring Silva and would without a doubt serve to spice up any UFC card, even if Silva isn’t in the night’s main event.

The only reason a middleweight title rematch is even being considered is because Silva lost. That might seem like an obvious statement, but had Silva won at UFC 162, people would be talking about which non-middleweight he should fight next. He had positively cleaned out the division and, save for a lapse in judgement that led to a lapse in consciousness, looked nearly undefeatable at 185 pounds. Weidman is literally the only middleweight fighter that makes any sense as an opponent for Silva, so why not just let Weidman defend his title against younger, hungrier opponents and let Silva ride off into the sunset with a few blockbuster non-title contests against guys from different weight classes?

The Silva/Weidman rematch is almost a foregone conclusion at this point, and I’ll order it whenever its date arrives, but for my money, Silva/Jones (or Silva/Barnett, or Silva/Evans even) sounds a lot better.

Photo: Anderson Silva (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Eric Reinert
Staff Writer

Eric Reinert has been writing about mixed martial arts since 2010. Outside the world of caged combat, Eric has spent time as a news reporter, speechwriter, campaign strategist, tech support manager, landscaper and janitor. He lives in Madison, Wis.