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Tuesday, November 13, 2012
'Spider' is more than a simple middleman

By Chuck Mindenhall

Anderson Silva recently told Brazilian site Tatame that he thinks his next fight will come in late 2013.

This, of course, could be posturing. Silva is a smart businessman, and he has a way of playing with dramatics better than we give him credit for. (Remember in 2008 when he was flirting with retirement? Safe to say he didn't follow through on that.)

Then again, the 37-year-old pound-for-pound GOAT could really be taking himself out of action voluntarily, which is dramatic in itself. All those big-dollar superfight scenarios with Georges St. Pierre and/or Jon Jones have one thing in common -- they hold Silva precariously as the centerpiece. In that way, his timing is awful. In the midst of UFC president Dana White’s seeding and all the heightened expectations, here comes Silva presenting us with the one thing we’ve never cared for -- his oblivion.

What gives?

We’ll know more Saturday, when the outcome of St. Pierre’s title defense against Carlos Condit plays itself out, but one thing seems certain -- if St. Pierre beats Condit at UFC 154, Silva won’t likely run into the Octagon to throw the gauntlet down. For starters, the Portuguese-speaking Silva won’t be a big hit in French-speaking Montreal. Il n’est pas bon. Plus, it’s out of Silva’s character. He likes to shrug his shoulders and make funny faces when people come at him with direct challenges. He certainly doesn’t like unnecessary confrontation. He leaves that to the people trying to take what’s his.

Is GSP trying to get what’s his? No. At least, not publicly.

But let’s take Silva at face value here and assume he’s taking a sabbatical until late 2013. What happens if that’s the reality? Will there be yet another interim belt at large? And if so, which fight do you make for that latest bit of delusion? The Chris Weidman-Tim Boetsch fight in December, or the Vitor Belfort-Michael Bisping fight in February? Or does it become a tournament for the placeholder belt? That seems like a long way to go for a mirage.

It’s difficult to know who is fighting for what at this point, which extends to the welterweights. Middleweights Silva out of action until late 2013 might come as happy news to Johny Hendricks and Martin Kampmann, the two 170-pounders who were originally fighting for a title shot, and then just fighting to stay within earshot of a title shot. Nick Diaz, too, could be let loose on St. Pierre without so many entanglements if Silva’s out of the way. He’s due back in February.

In fact, all the top 170-pounders -- perhaps even GSP himself -- should be happy to hear that Silva is considering the time away.

Then again, if he’s really telling the truth, it also means we can (most likely) cross off a St. Pierre-Silva bout from ever happening. And maybe Jones-Silva, too. The 185-pound landscape will be different by the end of 2013. There will be definitive contenders waiting anxiously for his return. Any divisional superfights at that point would seem cruel to the weight class.

But all that aside, think about how disastrous this makes UFC 153 in retrospect. Not only was the card hindered by injuries to the point that it was nearly unrecognizable when it finally came to pass, but now we see the consequences in full. Stephan Bonnar went from company pioneer to blackguard for testing positive (again) for steroids. That’s bad. Worse, the guy who “rescued” the card in a fight nobody wanted to see, feels like that was enough, that he can be afforded this privilege based on his recent generosity.

So, in a sense, Silva's beating a semiretired fighter who was never in the top 10 of his division just replaced everything from superfights to sensible title defenses. In other words, UFC 153 could have just done away with a UFC at Cowboys Stadium.

That should drop UFC 153 just behind UFC 151 as the most calamitous cards ever assembled.

And then again, you know, Silva could be posturing. He must be, right? Just a little leveraging? We’d better hope so; because if not, the UFC in 2013 picks up right where the UFC in 2012 left off -- that is, with a series of unwanted complications.