Silva didn't sound too crazy about it in the immediate aftermath, saying he would fulfill the remainder of his promotional contract, fighting 10 more times, "but not for the belt." The thing is, he may not have any choice in the matter, as the UFC has increasingly relied on title rematches over the past few years.
In just the last year alone (give or take a few days), three pay-per-views have been headlined by return bouts for one of the UFC belts. Silva starred in one of them, defeating Chael Sonnen for a second time at UFC 148. Fans also saw Benson Henderson narrowly make it two in a row over Frankie Edgar at UFC 150 and Cain Velasquez regain the UFC Heavyweight Championship from Junior dos Santos at UFC 160.
Dana White and company obviously feel rematches are good business, and that's probably even more true when a long-reigning champion like Silva is involved. There's a built in storyline that almost writes itself: can the former champ redeem himself, or will the new titleholder prove the first outcome was no fluke? The UFC doesn't even have to work too hard to market a fight like that.
The only question is when the bout would take place. It doesn't make much sense for either man to take a fight against someone else in the interim. That would only run the risk of ruining the rematch if one of them loses, and in Weidman's case, it's not like there's a logjam of obvious middleweight title contenders anyway (though maybe Michael Bisping and Vitor Belfort would disagree).
Not all of the remaining UFC pay-per-view cards for 2013 have been made official, but the next four all look to have championship bouts in their main event slots — and one of those is the rubber match between Velasquez and dos Santos. That leaves just UFC 168 in late December, which is currently rumored to be headlined by the second meeting between Ronda Rousey and Miesha Tate. White has shown a willingness to let the ladies have the spotlight before, but the end of the year PPV used to be a loaded affair, and Weidman-Silva II would certainly make it that way again.
As is often the case, it's hard to determine which way the UFC brass might be leaning just from White's comments. First Lance Pugmire reported that White wanted to have the middleweight rematch in December and was so psyched about the idea that he'd move Rousey-Tate II to February. Two days later, he told ESPN's Brett Okamoto that the fight probably wouldn't happen this year, and that he was even having second thoughts about staging it on Super Bowl weekend out of respect for UFC broadcast partner Fox.
The thing is, if Weidman-Silva II really is going to be "the biggest fight in UFC history," as White claims, then it doesn't need to be on one of the promotion's "special" cards. It can literally be any time, and doesn't even need a strong undercard – not necessarily a bad thing in an era when the sheer number of broadcasts threatens to water down the product.
Smart money says the rematch will happen, and even Silva has quickly come around to the idea. Neither man took a ton of punishment during the first fight, so there's no physical reason why it couldn't happen a few months from now. That being the case, no one should be surprised if it ends up on the end of the year card after all. There's something to be said for striking while the iron is hot.Tags: Anderson Silva, Cain Velasquez, Chris Weidman, Dana White, Junior dos Santos, Michael Bisping, Miesha Tate, MMA, Ronda Rousey, UFC, Vitor Belfort
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