It’s not yet clear how this whole Chael Sonnen/PED situation will play out, but that doesn’t mean I can’t speculate on how it will affect Joe Silva’s week.
If Sonnen is cleared of the violations, which is unlikely, I would argue that the foreseeable future of the middleweight division is pretty straight forward. Anderson Silva and Sonnen rematch for the belt with the winner fighting the Yushin Okami v. Vitor Belfort winner. As for the other contenders, Chris Leben welcomes Wanderlei Silva back to the Octagon and Nate Marquardt waits for the winner of Michael Bisping v. Yoshihiro Akiyama. While all of this is going on, Demian Maia buys a freezer to keep Kendall Grove’s severed arm in and Gerald Harris hazes another UFC freshman.
But if Sonnen is suspended and publicly flogged, things get a little messy, just like the night I was conceived.
The Okami v. Belfort winner could theoretically make a quick turnaround and fight Silva in January, but that isn’t the best situation. For one thing, it means a shortened training camp for a fighter entering into a championship bout and that just isn’t fair. For another, either Okami or Belfort could get injured in their bout, leaving nobody to fight Silva.
Another idea would be to simply book one of the currently unbooked contenders against Silva. This would mean sticking Marquadt, Wanderlei, or Leben directly into a championship bout. Marquardt and Wanderlei are both only on one fight win streaks, which doesn’t scream “title shot.” Each man needs at least one more big win before vying for the championship. And as for Leben, his current win streak, while incredibly impressive, isn’t exactly worthy of an immediate crack at the belt either. Plus, the starching he received at the hands of Silva back in 2006 is still in the back of everybody’s head.
The solution? Pull Belfort from his fight with Okami and put him against Silva for the belt. Some are still arguing that Belfort doesn’t deserve it because he’s only had one fight in his current UFC run and that wasn’t even at 185, but who cares? The UFC has tried to book that fight two or three times already and, let’s face it, Belfort is the most appealing match-up for Silva right now, aside from Sonnen. With the championship bout out of the way, Marquardt gets Belfort’s slot against Okami, which makes sense from a matchmaking perspective and from the fact that Marquardt just had a big win on Spike, which would theoretically help drive interest in the Spike-televised Okami fight. Leben and Wand still fight each other and the rest of the division can sort itself out.
Somebody put Joe Silva on notice. It’s only a matter of time before he gets pulled over with a trunk full of dead Thai prostitutes and the UFC needs a replacement matchmaker.
UPDATE: The CSAC says a Silva v. Sonnen rematch is unlikely unless Sonnen appeals before the end of the year. Looks like the UFC is going to have to either take my advice or push off Silva’s next title defense a bit to accomodate the Okami v. Belfort winner.