The standard response from UFC president Dana White is “we’ll see. We’re gonna sit down and figure that out.”
Heading into Saturday night’s UFC on Fox 2 fight card, White already has already sat down and figured out what’s next for two of the promotion’s marquee divisions. Both the UFC light heavyweight and middleweight title pictures have clearly defined paths following the fights in Chicago.
In regards to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, he will face the winner of the fight between Chael Sonnen and Michael Bisping, likely at a soccer stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, this summer… despite what Sonnen believes.
“I think that (the UFC) is sincere. I think that they mean it. But I can tell you that behind the scenes, they’ve tried to put Anderson and me together four times and four times he said no,” Sonnen stated recently, declaring that it is his belief that Silva will never step in the Octagon with him or likely anyone else.
White begs to differ.
“I 100-percent, right here, right now, guarantee you that if Chael Sonnen wins his fight, that Anderson Silva will fight Chael Sonnen this summer,” the UFC pres said in a recent interview for UFC Tonight on Fuel TV. “It will probably take place in Brazil.”
Color Sonnen skeptical. He believes that, if he gets past Bisping, he’ll be sitting down with White to discuss the possibility of moving up to challenge Jon Jones or down to square off with Georges St-Pierre. Of course, with Sonnen, much of what he says comes across as if he’s channeling the Steve Jobs reality distortion field.
The picture has become just as clear for the light heavyweight title picture, but despite what Sonnen might want to believe, it doesn’t include him.
There is no longer speculation as to who Jon Jones will defend his 205-pound division UFC title from; it’s either Option A or Option B.
“If Rashad Evans wins, and if he doesn’t get injured, he will fight Jon Jones,” said White, verifying Option A. “He’s the guy who gets the shot. He’s been waiting a long time, and he’s the one who deserves it.”
Option B is just as concrete. There is no discussion if it will be Phil Davis or Dan Henderson or Chael Sonnen.
“Should Rashad get hurt, then Dan Henderson will fight next.”
He didn’t exactly go on to say when or where Evans or Henderson would get the shot at Jones, but it is all but assured to be at UFC 145 in Atlanta on April 21. UFC 145 was eventually slated for Montreal in March, but that date and location had to be bagged due to lack of a “championship-caliber” headlining bout.
A pay-per-view event in Atlanta will need that same marquee-type of fight and Jones is the only fighter available that fits the bill.
It’s a little bit out of the ordinary for White to be so declarative heading into an event, but UFC on Fox 2 is the promotion’s first full-on foray onto “Big Fox” – the November fight between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos was but a preview of coming attractions – so this one has to deliver the goods.
What better way to do that than to put two fights with absolute title implications at the top of the bill, launching the winners into the pay-per-view stratosphere?