Photo by Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
If things had gone according to plan, former middleweight champion Anderson Silva would still be scheduled for a fight with surging contender Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 212 this June 3. But really, how often do things go according to plan in the hectic world of mixed martial arts? Almost never. In an unfortunate twist, Gastelum became the latest victim of the United States Anti-Doping Commission’s archaic, fun-killing, no marijuana rule, and just like that, Silva no longer had an opponent for UFC 212.
Given that the card is occurring in Rio de Janeiro, in his native Brazil, Silva is eager to keep himself on the bill. The challenge for the UFC’s matchmaking team, then, is not only finding him a new opponent, but finding one that will be able to squeeze in a training camp and a trip to Brazil in roughly a month and a half’s time. Luckily for Silva, the promotion seems to be making a real effort to do so.
Operating under the assumption that they’ll be able to find a new opponent for Silva, they flew him into Rio to partake in a Tuesday press conference with the card’s other big stars. Unsurprisingly, the middleweight great fielded many questions about possible replacements for Gastelum. Yet not everyone he was asked about piqued his interest.
When asked about a fight with former opponent Vitor Belfort, he expressed total disinterest, stating that he’d prefer not to fight somebody riding a loss (Belfort is riding three-straight). When asked about a showdown with fellow striker Uriah Hall, who he was briefly scheduled to fight last May, he said the same. When asked about a fight with Luke Rockhold—a former champion and a fighter well ahead of him in the divisional rankings, the sentiment was the same.
“I’m coming off a win,” Silva said through his interpreter (h/t MMAJunkie.com). “I hadn’t won a fight in a long time, so there’s not really a point in fighting either one of those because they’re coming off a loss. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not going to take me any further, so it makes no sense.”
“I hope the UFC [gets me] an athlete coming off a win that’s going to bring something to my legacy, otherwise it makes no sense.”
At this juncture, the middleweight legend is just not interested in fighting anybody who’s been plucked from the loss column—but hey, Anderson Silva might just be the greatest fighter of all time, so who the hell are we to fault him for that? Let him call his shots.
The one issue with Silva’s reluctance to fight these men, however, is that he also expressed interest in a fight with Nick Diaz— a man who has not won a fight since he beat BJ Penn like six fucking years ago. I like Anderson Silva. I like Nick Diaz too. But the logic there is pretty flimsy…
“It’s something that’s been talked about,” Silva said of a possible fight with Diaz. “It’s possible that it could happen, the fight against Nick. I respect him a lot. I think he’s an excellent fighter. It’s a fight that would be interesting, a fight that would be pretty cool to watch, and it actually makes sense.”
Silva and Diaz have met once before. In fact, the January 2015 bout marks Diaz’s most recent steps into the Octagon.
As anticipated as it was, the fight was a letdown for several reasons. First, it was a bit of a dud. To make matters worse, both fighters failed drug tests in the fallout of this fight—Diaz for marijuana, and Silva for the much more severe banned substance Drostanolone. As a result, Silva’s original unanimous decision win was scratched out of the MMA history books, and replaced by the words “no contest.”
In that sense—the sense that their first fight wasn’t very good, and that it didn’t register as a win, loss or draw for either man—a Silva-Diaz rematch does make some sense. Other than that rather flimsy reason, however, the logic behind pitting Silva and Diaz together again is pretty sparse. Yet it seems to be the only fight Silva actually wants.
Now, readers with their finger on the pulse of the fight game may want to interject here, and remind that Silva also expressed some interest in top middleweight contender Yoel Romero at yesterday’s UFC 212 press conference. Unfortunately, it was later revealed by MMA manager Malki Kawa that Silva had in fact turned down this possible fight with Romero. So like Rockhold, Belfort and Hall, he’s off the table, leaving Nick Diaz as the last option on Silva’s menu.
Does Silva really think a rematch with Nick Diaz “makes sense,” or does he just want a fight he’s confident he can win? Does he really think fights with top middleweights like Luke Rockhold and Yoel Romero don’t make sense, or is he a bit worried about how these fights might turn out now that he is 41-years-old? It’s impossible to say, and once again, it doesn’t really matter, as Silva has earned the right to pick the fights that interest him most. Whatever the case may be, however, his though process here is very confusing.
But hey, this might just get Nick Diaz back in the cage. That would be pretty sweet.
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