Who’s next for Anderson Silva? A solution to the middleweight mess

Maggie Hendricks

There seems to be absolutely no consensus on who should get the next middleweight title shot. Current champion Anderson Silva easily dispatched of Chael Sonnen, one of the few fighters who has challenged him in recent years, and the talent pool after Sonnen is thin. Several fighters have said they deserve the chance to stop Silva record-breaking title defense streak, but no one has distinguished himself.

As MMA is a head-to-head sport, isn't there an easy way to settle this discussion? Say, a tournament? It's not a novel idea, as the UFC is in the midst of a tournament to decide their first flyweight champion. Bellator's whole promotion is based on a tournament. Strikeforce learned with their heavyweight grand prix that surprises sometimes emerge.

To help the UFC out -- because I'm so kind -- here is a basic, eight-man tournament. The rules:

1. The tournament has already started. With several important middleweight fights having already happened this month or scheduled for a bout soon, it was the best way to include every deserving fighter and keep the division moving.
2. Three-round fights. If a bout ends in a draw, the fight will go to a fourth and decisive round.
3. If you're injured, you're out. Fights have to happen every three or four months to make this work. It's not exactly fair, but neither is life.
4. There is no seeding. Draws are decided on when fighters could most easily face each other. Without an official ranking system, seeding would be silly.

Here's the bracket:

The whole thing could take place over the next year, with the final fight happening at the UFC's Fourth of July show. The winner would face the middleweight champ in a show in early autumn.

And what could Silva do as the tournament unfolds? There's a simple -- if nearly impossible -- solution. He should fight Strikeforce middleweight champion Luke Rockhold. In Strikeforce, Rockhold has little else but rematches in front of him. He and Silva have both said they want to fight each other. Sure, iron clad contract rules will keep the fight from happening, and UFC president Dana White nixed the idea. However, contracts can be broken and White has changed his mind in the past.

Could this work? Too crazy to work? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter.

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