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A Look Into the Potential Future of the UFC’s Middleweight Division

Posted by mmaplayground Monday, October 19, 2009 12:00 AM



Submitted by John King

Many months ago, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva released a statement outlining his intentions to retire from MMA competition after fulfilling the remainder of his contract with the UFC. The perpetually skeptical and always vocal internet fan base driven MMA world buzzed with visceral anger. Accusations of an overall weakness of middleweight MMA ranks flew with abandon, and the sense of impending doom that can only come from an irrelevant division loomed ominously over the daily debates. That ominous presence felt by the hard cores, and even some casual fans, will become known as the ghost of Anderson Silva, and it is destined to haunt any future middleweight title holders.

In the wake of Silva’s retirement will come rankings that have, for the most part, been all but solidified up to this point. Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, Yushin Okami, Patrick Cote and a few other veteran middleweights will jostle for position on the middleweight ladder against up and comers like Aaron Simpson, Jake Rosholt, and Dan Miller. Of course, the sorting out of this raucous jostling will be subject to the performances of incoming veterans like Yoshihiro Akiyama, Wanderlei Silva, and Ricardo Almeida. When the ranking picture is viewed in this light, there remains hope for excitement in an irrelevant division destined to be haunted by the ghost of Anderson Silva.

But is the ghost of Anderson Silva truly destined to haunt the middleweight division? Up to this point it has been discussed as a foregone conclusion. There remains the potential that a much more intimidating and capable “Ghost Buster” than Bill Murray or Dan Akroyd will save the UFC’s middleweight division. Vitor Belfort, who is riding a 5 fight win streak littered with names including Matt Lindland and Rich Franklin, may be armed with the proton pack necessary to defeat Anderson Silva’s electron charged ghost. Armed with devastating knockout power and some of the quickest hands in MMA history, at the very least fans can hope Vitor brings the right weapons into his upcoming battle.

Even should Vitor find himself on the losing end of a lopsided battle, all hope is not gone. With 2 more fights remaining on his contract after the bout with Vitor, fans can only hope in desperation that someone (besides Roy Jones Jr.) will step up to defeat Anderson Silva. There was light in the first round of the Dan Henderson fight when Hendo took Silva down and showed some light ground and pound from the side control position. There is also the threat of the most dangerous BJJ competitor in MMA, Demian Maia, making a resurgence to the top of the ladder for a shot at submitting Noguiera black belt Anderson Silva. Speaking of Maia, let us not forget nor overlook the danger of well rounded and seasoned UFC veteran middleweight Nate Marquardt.

With this week’s news of a potential split between consensus top 3 middleweight Dan Henderson and the UFC, fans are left even more curious about the future of a division that is already perceived weak. All hope is not gone, however. By all accounts Dan Henderson has yet to reach an agreement with any promotion, and as a result the average fan can not factor him out of the equation entirely.

Though the ghost of Anderson Silva remains a very real and incredibly likely threat to be faced, the fear of an irrelevant weight class is something which currently should be faced by the UFC brass, not the fans. The potential future of the UFC’s middleweight division paints itself as a dark cloud on the horizon, and though the very top is a dark and commanding figure in the shape of a dark skinned Brazilian, there is silver lining in the form of exciting fights like Marquardt vs. Henderson, Rosholt vs. Simpson, Cote vs. Belcher, Akiyama vs. Almeida, and the rematch we’d all love to see- Belfort vs. Wandy. If indeed the ghost of Anderson Silva does haunt the middleweight division for years to come, at least in the wake of his passing the fans can find comfort in highly competitive fights between fighters desperate for relevance in a once again competitive division.

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