The recent unfortunate news of a shoulder injury that has forced Vitor Belfort out of his anticipated title clash with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has left promotion matchmaker Joe Silva stuck between a rock and a hard place yet once again.
Of course there’s always the possibility that a late replacement for “The Spider” could always be of the light heavyweight variety, but Anderson fought in a non-title fight in his last bout, and as dominant as he currently is at the weight class, I think the 185 pounders deserve a crack at the elusive throne one way or another.
It also appears that UFC President Dana White seems to share the same sentiment as he recently revealed through a text message to MMAFighting.com that Silva would in fact remain on UFC 112 card in Abu Dhabi set for April 10, and he would compete at 185 pounds.
With that being said, come along as I dive into possible replacements in what will undoubtedly be viewed as an underdogs big chance to spoil Anderson’s seemingly impenetrable title reign that currently spans five defenses over the best middleweights the UFC has had to offer.
Chael Sonnen: While there’s little use arguing the fact that Sonnen is in line to face Silva next, the aspiring politician’s recent mauling of Nate Marquardt at UFC 109 left him with a medical suspension March 24 with no contact until March 9 due to forehead and nasal-bridge lacerations. That means no sparring or rolling until March 9, and the athletic commission means it. A serious suspension could be handed down if they find out any different. So that gives Sonnen a solid month to train for the biggest fight of his life. Not exactly ideal conditions, but how often are they in life? I’ll say this much: I would be shocked if Sonnen turned down an opportunity like this under any circumstances. Chances are high we see Sonnen stepping up to the plate here.
Demian Maia: Maia is currently riding a nasty medical suspension that runs through August 6 due to an left vertical upper eyelid laceration, but there’s a chance that he could be cleared early by an ophthalmologist or ocular-plastics doctor. Either way, I find Maia as an unlikely candidate to be the replacement opponent in this bout with little chance outside of a Ryo Chonan flying heel hook at victory.
Ricardo Almeida: Now keep in mind, Almeida’s mentor Renzo Gracie is also fighting on this card, and the Brazilian vs. Brazilian aspect of the possible bout would be mouth watering to the Jiu-Jitsu loving Abu Dhabi spectators. Of course, Almeida has stated in the past just how badly he desired to drop down to 170 pounds, and a scheduled UFC 111 bout with Matt Brown where “The Big Dog” is expected to do just that would have to be scrapped, but this is a title fight with the most dominant champion in the business we’re talking about here; Anything could happen.
Nate Quarry: We’re not necessarily looking at fighters that have the best chance of knocking Silva from his throne, but fighters that would make an entertaining last minute replacement that possess a win in their previous outing at the very least; Two previous wins would be better. “The Rock” falls in the two wins in a row category with back to back victories over the likes of Tim Credeur and Jason MacDonald. A scheduled UFC Fight Night 21 bout with Jorge Rivera would have to be trashed if Nate managed to get the nod.
Rousimar Palhares: Another Brazilian vs. Brazilian match-up that would undoubtedly send the thousand and thousands of native Abu Dhabi fans into a frenzy. With an insanely dangerous ground game, this Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt holds recent back-to-back wins over the likes of Jeremy Horn and Lucio Linhares in the Octagon. As dominant a champion that Silva currently is at 185 pounds, you better believe that if anyone had a chance to dethrone “The Spider” from a stylistic viewpoint, it just might be the “Tree Stump”.
Yoshihiro Akiyama: With “Sexyama” yanked from an anticipated clash with Wanderlei Silva at UFC 110, the Japanese Judo stylist has nothing but time on his hands in regards to any type of fight being in front of him in the near future. Akiyama would be a perfect candidate as a replacement in the regard that he’s coming off of a big win over Alan Belcher at the biggest card ever, UFC 100, and seemingly could be battle-ready by early April.
Alan Belcher: “The Talent” is currently expected to face off with Patrick Cote at UFC 113, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that Alan would happily switch dates if given the nod from the UFC. The one thing that’s for sure about a potential Silva vs. Belcher clash is that it would absolutely deliver in excitement department.
Yushin Okami: Probably not going to see this one for two very basic reasons.: The first being that Okami most recently got his butt thoroughly kicked by Chael Sonnen, and the second being the extremely unlikely danger that Okami would manage to win the bout. That would be a marketing nightmare for the UFC. Although Silva avenging his last “defeat” in the cage would make a slightly intriguing selling point….. I guess.
Aaron Simpson: Three wins in a row with the UFC place Simpson’s name on this list of names to think about. Aaron’s previous performance in the bout with Tom Lawlor would make it hard for many fans to get very excited about this match-up at this point, but all options must be considered.
The winner of Wanderlei Silva vs. Michael Bisping: If the winner comes out and just blows through the victim in this bout while managing to keep nice and healthy, this could be an unlikely option. Coming back and fighting just a month and a half later for the winner of this bout make this a potential bout not to lose much sleep over.