by Steven Marrocco – MMAWeekly.com
LOS ANGELES — Anderson Silva and manager Ed Soares are not quite ready to sign off on a fight with Vitor Belfort at UFC 108.
Nearly three weeks after UFC president Dana White told the Los Angeles Times his middleweight champion and revitalized former light heavyweight champion had agreed to face off in Las Vegas on Jan. 2, there are complications on Silva’s side.
First, Silva must be able to heal properly — and promptly — from an arthroscopic surgery he underwent last Monday to repair chronic damage to his elbow, Soares told MMAWeekly.com Monday evening at a fashion show for sponsor Silver Star (Silva doubled as a runway model).
That won’t be known until the 34-year-old Silva sees his Los Angeles doctor on Friday.
“They found some things that they weren’t aware of (during the surgery), which is a good thing,” said Soares. “If we’re going to be fighting for the title, we want to make sure Anderson’s 100-percent.”
Second, Silva and Soares believe Belfort doesn’t deserve a title shot. Soares expressed their misgivings in a conversation with White prior to Silva’s appearance Monday evening, though he failed to sway White.
“We’ll just agree to disagree,” said Soares.
Silva, who wore a small bandage on his right elbow backstage at the event, said he didn’t have anything to say about his proposed opponent.
Soares maintains a title eliminator between Nate Marquardt and Dan Henderson is the most logical idea for Silva’s next contender, given their recent victories and Henderson’s 2007 win over Belfort in Pride Fighting Championships. He first pitched the idea to White following UFC 102 in August, but White did not commit.
Instead, Belfort, who in September returned to the UFC fold after four years in other promotions, jumped to the front of the line after decimating former middleweight champion Rich Franklin at UFC 103 in Dallas. The bout was contested at a catchweight of 195 pounds, though Belfort needed three attempts to reach 196 pounds, the maximum overage allowed by Texas’ athletic commission.
Soares believes Belfort’s weight issues may persist should his fighter accept the fight.
“Vitor has not fought in the UFC at 185 pounds,” he said. “Now, I know people can say Anderson fought for the belt after one fight, and that’s true, but he fought at 185 pounds. At 195 pounds, he didn’t make weight, at first. So he couldn’t make weight at 195 pounds, but now he’s going to fight for the title at 185 pounds?”
Silva has twice moved beyond his championship division as a light heavyweight, and has expressed a desire to fight at heavyweight, though he appeared to cool on the idea backstage.
“Maybe,” he said in English. “It’s possible in the future.”
The immediate goal, said Soares, was setting the record for most consecutive title defenses in UFC history. Silva already holds the record for most consecutive wins.
Ultimately, Soares said Silva was loyal to the UFC and would love to fight on Jan. 2, whether against Belfort or not. He said their feelings weren’t negative, but a reflection of respect for White.
Silva, however, says it’s not up to him whether he fights on UFC 108.
“It’s doctor’s decision,” he added in English. “My elbow is hurt, but my doctor said come back to training, come back to fight.”
On Wednesday, the champion is scheduled to begin physical therapy after getting his surgery stitches removed. Soares says a decision on Silva’s fight-readiness will be made in 10 days.
Until then, it appears anything is possible.