There were few other fights that the UFC could pull together that would excite fans more than Anderson Silva vs. Nick Diaz did when the bout was first announced earlier this year.
In the blue corner you have the former Strikeforce welterweight champion making his return to the Octagon after what would have been a 22-month hiatus. In the red corner you have the former UFC middleweight champion making his return from a yearlong absence that came as a result of one of the most gruesome injuries most of us have ever seen.
Both men were poised to take the center of the Octagon and piece together what could have been one of the most fan-friendly striking matches anybody could ask for.
So when most of us heard that Diaz was arrested under suspicion of DUI, the concerns started to grow—who would Silva fight if the highly anticipated bout with Diaz fell through?
Like it or not, this was a fight that Silva was supposed to win. Diaz was supposed to do what he always does: move forward, throw strikes aplenty and collect his paycheck. Silva, being the counterstriker that he is, was supposed to bob, weave and pounce his way back into relevancy.
None of the following fighters would make for quite as an exciting fight, especially when you consider the amount of attention Diaz garners when he steps inside of a cage. That doesn’t mean this pay-per-view is already destined to fail, though.
Here are some alternative options:
No, he may not have the same rhetorical abilities that Diaz has developed over the years, but he certainly has a similar striking game that could make for an equally exciting fight. Akin to Diaz, Gegard Mousasi doesn’t always throw heavy, but he surely throws often.
Coming off of a one-sided loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza earlier this month, Mousasi fell to the bottom of the already-crowded middleweight pool of title contenders. A victory against Silva—which could happen—would likely toss him ahead of a lot of the current crop of contenders.
A win for Silva here would likely provide a little more validation than he would receive in defeating Diaz, further convincing the public that he’s still worthy of the No. 1 spot in the UFC’s middleweight division.
Sure, Dan Henderson hasn’t necessarily looked impressive since he took part in a five-round war with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in 2011. He also hasn’t fought at 185 pounds since he challenged for Jake Shields’ Strikeforce middleweight title back in 2010.
But after getting rag-dolled by Daniel Cormier, knocked out by Vitor Belfort and split-decisioned by faster fighters in Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, it’s obvious that Hendo needs to make some changes before he’ll start seeing any sort of success inside of the Octagon again.
Squaring off against Silva—in what would be the sequel to their 2008 title unification bout—could be the sort of motivation that Henderson needs to make the difficult weight cut at 44 years old.
With back-to-back victories against Henderson and Chael Sonnen, it’s not as if Rashad Evans needs to make the move down to middleweight. He sits firmly as the light heavyweight division’s No. 3 contender, likely only needing one or two more victories before he’ll find himself in a rematch against Jon Jones.
But that’s just it—it’ll be a rematch against the man who beat him in every feasible way for five whole rounds. And it’s not as if Jones suddenly plateaued upon defeating Evans—he’s gotten much, much better.
He’ll be looking to make his return to the Octagon in early 2015 after tearing his ACL in the weeks leading up to his bout against Cormier back in March. He did say he’d be willing to come back as early as February, per The MMA Hour, via Dana Becker of Fightline.com, but who’s to say he’d be opposed to the idea of pushing his ETA a month early to step up and fight the former pound-for-pound king?
Kristian Ibarra is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He also serves as the sports editor at San Diego State University’s student-run newspaper, The Daily Aztec. Follow him on Twitter at @Kristian_Ibarra for all things MMA.
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Courtesy of :Bleacher Report – UFC