by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
The list of fighters that want to challenge Mauricio “Shogun” Rua after Saturday night will soon start to pile up, but it won’t include UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
It’s been talked about ever since Silva knocked out Forrest Griffin and James Irvin in two light heavyweight fights that the Brazilian champion could one day challenge for a title in the higher weight class. Prior to Saturday, Silva was hindered by his longtime friendship with Lyoto Machida, but now that he’s lost the title the question has been raised once again.
UFC president Dana White believes that Silva still has work to do in the middleweight division, however, and until that’s finished he won’t be going back to 205 pounds.
“Anderson Silva’s going to fight Chael Sonnen, and then probably Vitor Belfort, then he’ll move up,” said White. “I like to see guys clean a division out.”
The first of those challenges will come in August when Silva faces off against Sonnen at UFC 117 in Oakland. Belfort has yet to announce a time when he’ll be coming back from injury, but most likely he’ll take at least one more fight before getting a title shot against the winner of Silva and Sonnen.
Of course the reminder that was UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi still sits fresh in White’s mind as well, and he says that Silva needs to look no further than Mauricio “Shogun” Rua if he needs a model on how to go out and fight.
“I’m still unhappy with Anderson. I want to see Anderson perform in his next (fight). The way that Shogun performed tonight is the way the best fighters in the world should perform,” White stated. “That’s what people are paying for.”
The next fighter to face Shogun will be the winner of Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, who battle later this month.
Former light heavyweight champion Randy Couture may still be lingering in the title picture as well. Couture told MMAWeekly.com last week that he hoped to get the winner of Shogun/Machida within six months.