Silva sets sights from welterweight to heavy
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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – Anderson Silva is so good, and has been so dominant as the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight title-holder, that it’s big news when he doesn’t obliterate an opponent.
Silva already holds the UFC record for consecutive wins (10) and, on Saturday, will break a tie with Matt Hughes and Tito Ortiz if he defeats Demian Maia in the main event of UFC 112 at Ferrari World and reels off the sixth consecutive successful defense of his middleweight belt.
But how does UFC welterweight champion Anderson Silva grab you? Or UFC light heavyweight champion Anderson Silva? Or, better yet, UFC heavyweight champion Anderson Silva?
Well, it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll ever fight for even one of those other belts, but it’s not because the thought hasn’t crossed the soon-to-be 35-year-old’s mind. He’s not the type to call out an opponent and challenge a champion in another division, but he said after a news conference Wednesday that he is seriously considering a drop to 170 pounds for two fights.
One he’d take to see if he could successfully make the welterweight limit, and a second would potentially be for a Superfight with champion Georges St. Pierre.
St. Pierre has put a stranglehold on the welterweight division similar to the one that Silva has on the middleweights. So, naturally, talk of a St. Pierre-Silva fight has arisen. UFC president Dana White has put a damper on the talk recently, however, because he’s begun to believe that Silva is too big for St. Pierre.
If Silva were to drop to 170 to meet St. Pierre, it would create perhaps the biggest fight in UFC history, matching the top two pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Silva said it’s possible, though he was careful not to demand a title bout or call out St. Pierre.
“I’d like to test myself and I always love to take on new challenges,” Silva said of his thoughts about a drop to 170 pounds from the middleweight limit of 185. “It’s not that I want to go fight Georges St. Pierre for his title. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the reigning champion, the absolute champion, in that weight category. But I just want to test myself and see how I’d do at that weight.”
Silva, who recently signed a new eight-fight contract with the UFC, said he hasn’t made 170 pounds in about five years. He’s not looking to campaign in the division, however, and two fights at the weight wouldn’t change that, even if he were successful.
Silva has the otherworldly kind of talent, though, to make an even bigger splash. He’s already knocked out Forrest Griffin, a former light heavyweight champion and if close friend and training partner Lyoto Machida weren’t holding the UFC’s 205-pound belt, he might be eyeing a run at it too.
He also acknowledged an interest in fighting at heavyweight. He’s got the kind of frame to add on the weight and could compete around 225 pounds.
Whether that would be enough to allow him to deal with the behemoths at the top of the division – such as champion Brock Lesnar and No. 1 contender Shane Carwin – is another matter entirely. But one of the things that makes Silva so great is that he thinks big.
“It would be disrespectful for me to say I want to fight Brock Lesnar, who is the heavyweight champion right now,” Silva said. “I need to test myself at heavyweight first before I talk about who I want to fight. But I definitely have interest in testing myself as a heavyweight.”
It would be an enormous boost for the sport if he could make a run at four UFC belts, much like golf benefited in 2000 from Tiger Woods’ run at the grand slam.
There are only two men in UFC history who have held championships in multiple divisions. B.J. Penn has been champion at welterweight and currently holds the lightweight belt. Randy Couture has had multiple stints as both the heavyweight and light heavyweight champion.
Four is unheard of, though, and the race to accomplish it would be an enormous story.
“I understand how big that would be,” Silva said of a run at all four belts. “I already have [three] titles [in the UFC, Shooto and Cage Rage] and it would be a great thing to try to accomplish. Only time will tell what will happen. I would like to try to go to do that, but I’ve had success by focusing on what I have to do and nothing else. I just take one step at a time.”
Hughes praised Silva’s mental toughness and said it’s been a key reason why he’s been able to hang on to the belt so long. Penn shook his head at Silva’s longevity at the top. Silva has held the belt since Oct. 14, 2006, and recently broke Ortiz’s record for most days as the champion. Ortiz held the UFC’s light heavyweight belt from April 14, 2000, until Sept. 24, 2003, when he lost it to Couture.
“It’s amazing,” Penn said of Silva’s lengthy run at the top of the middleweight heap. “To do that for that long and to be at the top for that period of time, it’s amazing.”
It’s nothing, however, compared to what may come. If Silva keeps the belt by getting past Maia on Saturday, he could be in store for some magnificent adventures.
If he ever gets in position for a heavyweight title fight with Lesnar, the UFC might need to bring in a couple of armored trucks to haul in the money he’d make.
Silva, though, isn’t motivated by money as much as he is by pushing himself and testing the limits of his skills. It’s why he’d think about shedding the pounds to fight St. Pierre or to even consider taking on the gargantuan Lesnar.
Silva is already a larger-than-life character, but the best may be yet to come. His idol is the comic-book character Spider-Man, he said, noting: “Ever since I’ve been a kid, I’ve wanted to be a superhero. That would be kind of cool.”
If he beats St. Pierre and he beats Lesnar, it’s pretty much guaranteed he’ll never have to dream of becoming a superhero again. Do that and he’ll be one in real life.