UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has been heavily criticized for his most recent performances, lackluster affairs against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. He and his camp have become vocal about wanting bigger challenges.
It appears that his boss has been listening. UFC president Dana White on Tuesday informed Yahoo! Sports that the champion will take part in the co-main event of UFC 101 when the promotion lands in Philadelphia on Aug. 2. His opponent will be inaugural Ultimate Fighter winner and former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
“Forrest loved the idea and said he’d do it right away, and Anderson told me he would fight anyone I wanted him to fight, no matter who it is,” White told Yahoo! Sports. “So we got the deal.”
The fight fits right in with desires of Silva and his camp.
“I just think Anderson wants to be involved with the biggest fights possible and the biggest fights that the UFC can put together. If it’s at 205, 185 or if it’s at some catchweight, it doesn’t make a difference,” Silva’s manager Ed Soares told MMAWeekly.com recently. “He’s got four fights left on his contract and he wants to make them the biggest fights possible. He wants to leave a legacy behind.”
With the recent criticism of Silva putting a damper on his draw as a headliner, the bout with Griffin will give him a chance to win back fans and headline pay-per-view fight cards. UFC 101, however, will be headlined by lightweight champion B.J. Penn’s title defense against No. 1 contender Kenny Florian.
Griffin had initially expected to face Thiago Silva at UFC 101, but the bout with Anderson Silva is obviously a higher profile opportunity. It is unclear what will happen with Thiago Silva at this point, as he has recently been training for the Griffin bout.