Where does Anderson Silva go from here? Three different potential paths for an aging legend

Prior to UFC 234, Anderson Silva made it very clear why he’d accepted a fight with Israel Adesanya. It was simple, he said. UFC President Dana White had promised him a title shot if he won.

But then Silva came away with a unanimous decision loss in Australia, and now things aren’t so simple anymore. What’s a 43-year-old former champ and all-time great supposed to do when he can’t quite make it to the top but still doesn’t want to leave the party just yet? Where does Silva go from here, now that his dreams of a late-career title fight have hit a serious roadblock?

In the big picture sense, seems like there are three different options for Silva’s continuing UFC career. Not all of them are great…

1. Join the legends tour

When it comes to plotting out a profitable future for aging fighters (without risking their lives in the process) maybe the UFC could stand to take a clue from Bellator. Instead of putting old fighters like Silva up against new ones like Adesanya, it could find him some competition in his own age group. And it’s not like there aren’t enough fighters in their 40s still looking for work.

The problem is, the UFC doesn’t tend to keep those guys around long. Fighters like Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen – both former Silva opponents who are now also enjoying their golden years in the sport – have found their way out of the promotion.

Are there even any old-timers left at middleweight aside from Silva, himself? Maybe the UFC would have to go find him some. Which, honestly, doesn’t sound like anything that’s a high priority for the company right now.

2. Become the stepping stone that hits back

This is essentially the role that the UFC assigned him against Adesanya. It wanted a fighter with some name value, but also one who wouldn’t spoil plans for the future by being too terribly dangerous in the present.

It worked, too. For the UFC and Adesanya, at least. Silva fought back just enough to keep things interesting, but not so much that he ever came too close to winning. Adesanya got a boost and the UFC got the use of Silva’s former fame to promote a card that ended up really needing the help. The downside is, that approach could easily prove hazardous to a 43-year-old man’s health.

3. Think outside the box for ‘fun’ fights

You know what’s weird? For a guy who built his fame as a great middleweight, some of Silva’s most memorable moments came outside the division. Remember when he starched James Irvin and Forrest Griffin at light heavyweight? Remember when he went up and schooled a suspiciously muscled Stephan Bonnar in Brazil? Silva has only lost one bout at light heavyweight, and it was a short-notice affair against double champ Daniel Cormier.

Assuming that both the UFC and Silva can make peace with the idea that his days of fighting for titles are forever done, there could be some fun to be had by getting creative with matchups. That Georges St-Pierre fight would still sell. You could maybe even talk me into finding out how Silva would do against someone like Ilir Latifi. Once you strip away the illusion that any of these fights are “about” anything in terms of rankings or divisional hierarchies, a lot of possibilities open up.

Then again, Silva’s already done this in a way. What else do you think that Nick Diaz fight was for? The fact that a title shot promise is what lured him into the Adesanya fight tells you that Silva might have different ideas about his future. You’d just hate to see those ideas get him hurt as he gets older and the contenders just get younger and more ferocious.

For complete coverage of UFC 234, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

2 months ago

Your Ad could be here please email () us for the details.

email us »

Latest news in MMA

UFC Ft. Lauderdale: Make your MMA Junkie reader predictions for Souza vs. Hermansson
2 hours ago
Luke Rockhold outlines path to Jon Jones title fight
2 hours ago
The biggest winners from UFC St. Petersburg
2 hours ago
UFC veteran killed by Uber driver after dispute
2 hours ago
Maycee Barber says Paige VanZant is avoiding fight because she ‘doesn’t want her face damaged’
3 hours ago
Joseph Benavidez ‘surprised it took that long’ for TJ Dillashaw to get caught
3 hours ago
Reports: UFC veteran Rodrigo Goiano de Lima killed in Brazil after altercation with Uber driver
3 hours ago
LFA looking California, feeling Minnesota for early summer events
4 hours ago
Bellator 220 video: No shortage of highlights on Ilima-Lei Macfarlane's unbeaten resume
5 hours ago
UFC Ft. Lauderdale: Fans invited to ceremonial weigh-ins, fan experience in South Florida
6 hours ago
Bellator 220: How to watch MacDonald vs. Fitch, fight card, start time, streaming info
6 hours ago
UFC Ft. Lauderdale: How to watch Souza vs. Hermansson, fight card, start time, streaming info
7 hours ago
Henry Cejudo explains what makes Marlon Moraes ‘a lot more dangerous’ than TJ Dillashaw
7 hours ago
Justin Gaethje explains why he is ‘the toughest out’ for Khabib Nurmagomedov
7 hours ago
Alexey Oleynik issues statement on loss to Alistair Overeem
7 hours ago
Trading Shots: Could a guy like Rich Franklin still become a star in today's UFC?
20 hours ago
MMA's week out of the cage: When 4/20 and Easter fall on the same weekend
20 hours ago
Mike Jackson ready for 'far more superior competition' than CM Punk
21 hours ago
Patrick Cummins' wild ride changing course, aiming for just one perfect night
22 hours ago
UFC Executive responds after Khabib Nurmagomedov criticizes St. Petersburg event
22 hours ago