Anderson Silva defended his title no less than 72 hours ago and already we have the possibility of a No. 1 contender fight this week at UFC on Fuel TV 4.

The meeting of Mark Munoz and Chris Weidman gives us a good glimpse at two powerhouse wrestlers who could possibly be next in line against the champion, whose one supposed weakness lies in his wrestling and takedown defense.

Munoz was already close earlier this year when he was expected to face Chael Sonnen, where a win likely would have secured Munoz the shot at Silva this past weekend.

Munoz is definitely deserving of a title shot, especially if he beats Weidman. He is a powerful wrestler with power in his hands. Granted, I don’t think he has the skills just yet to beat Silva, but he is deserving of the challenge nonetheless. Munoz is a great coach and a great person, which helps the UFC promote him as sort of the middleweight version of Junior dos Santos personality-wise.

Weidman as a title challenger, though, is a tricky thought. Weidman is coming off of a short notice—11 days’ short notice, to be exact—win over Demian Maia. Personally, I don’t think he is ready for the title shot just yet, even with a win over Munoz. Weidman getting a title shot would basically mean feeding him to Silva. Weidman’s striking isn’t to the level it should be to face someone of the champ’s caliber, as Silva will make an adversary look dumb when competing in the stand-up.

If Weidman does beat Munoz, he should move on to at least one more fight. Maybe a fight with Michael Bisping for the top contender spot when Bisping returns from injury.

Bisping is another candidate to get the title shot, but not quite yet. Bisping is still recovering from his loss to Sonnen earlier this year, and you can’t market a guy coming off a loss to the masses as the next middleweight title challenger. Just look at the UFC’s featherweight division, where people—me included— are flipping about Erik Koch getting a shot at Jose Aldo, and Koch has at least won his last four fights.

Another darkhorse candidate for the title bid is Hector Lombard.

Lombard is making his debut in the UFC against Tim Boetsch later this month at UFC 149. He is a former Bellator champion and has shown his knockout power in just about every fight. He even owns a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

I think Lombard has the skills to take a fight with Silva, and the UFC might decide to take a Lombard versus Silva title fight, but I think he should at least fight once more if he beats Boetsch. Just to get his feet under him in the UFC.

Silva has seemingly cleared out the division except for the fighters mentioned here. So, to give most of the other guys high up in the rankings a shot seems like a reach.

I like Vitor Belfort, but that front-kick loss is still playing on a loop in my head. And with his hand injury, he should also take one fight when he gets back in order to get the kinks out.

Maybe the UFC brings over the winner of the Strikeforce middleweight title fight between Luke Rockhold and Tim Kennedy? Doubtful.

To me, there are only two possibilities: the winner of Weidman and Munoz, or Lombard, if he wins against Boetsch. However, out of those three, the only one I think is really ready for the shot is Munoz.

I guess this is what happens when Anderson Silva is your champion. It gets hard to pick his next challenger.

Photo: Could Chris Weidman (top) be the next contender at middleweight? (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.