Anderson Silva. We’ve heard plenty about him over the last week, but it’s difficult to avoid talking about the greatest of all time when he’s talking about retiring unless he gets a shot at the title.
Silva has become yet another fighter to call for an interim title shot. The middleweight division will be held up for some time while everybody awaits not only the outcome of Georges St-Pierre’s return title match against champion Michael Bisping, but also just when that fight will actually happen. From a fighter standpoint, it makes sense to have an interim title match in the meantime. Whether or not Silva would be the one to take part in it would be a different story.
Bisping hasn’t defended his belt since October. If the rumors are to be believed, his next fight with GSP wouldn’t take place until the fall. That’s a whole year without a single middleweight championship bout.
Maybe an interim title fight would be nice. It would provide us with a definitive next contender for the belt and for the next title match, which would be held in the spring of 2018. So, naturally, it would help generate some sort of flow for the division instead of this tight gridlock it is stuck in. Is it really necessary, though?
The UFC has already shot down Silva’s request. The company is right to do so, too. Silva hasn’t exactly been the same fighter since his return from the horrific leg injury he suffered in his first fight against Chris Weidman. There are other deserving fighters in the division — most notably, the man Silva wants to fight, Yoel Romero, who should have been the next to fight Bisping for the middleweight crown. Instead, Bisping gets a nice payday while we have to wait to see the outcome of this fight before we finally move forward.
By declaring an interim title for the middleweight division, the UFC would have once again continued the trend of the interim titles that seemingly happen so much more frequently now than in years past. Instead, ihe UFC should stick to its guns and let the real champs be champs. And if Silva is really not bluffing on his retirement, he should just go ahead and hang up the gloves already.
The UFC doesn’t need another interim title to add to its list. Sure, it would help alleviate some problems and keep the division moving, but then we start dancing with one problem boxing has already encountered: the confusion of too many titles. We don’t need to attach a belt to what truly amounts to a No. 1 contender’s bout. We don’t need to put gold around everyone’s waist, otherwise it makes those belts meaningless.
There’s an obvious solution to this problem. The UFC has Silva, a returning GSP, the champ Bisping and a worthy contender in Romero. For years, fans wanted a super fight between Silva and St-Pierre. The UFC should book it. Meanwhile, Bisping can defend his crown against Romero. The super fight could then serve up the next man in line for a title bid. Not only do we get a match we have all been dying to see for what seems like an eternity, but the UFC sends either Bisping or Romero a big name for the next middleweight title fight.
Another interim belt is not the answer. It only serves to devalue the current titles. If every division ends up with an interim belt and, technically, two champions, what’s the point of having a champion in the first place? Instead, the UFC should call Silva’s bluff. And if he’s not bluffing? Well, retirement wouldn’t be so bad for a fading superstar who is 1-4 with one no-contest in his last six fights.