It has been widely reported the number one middleweight contender Vitor Belfort has been forced to withdraw from his UFC 112 title fight with Anderson Silva due to a shoulder injury. right now the extent of the injury in unknown, but it appears a new opponent is being sought for Silva. The reality is the options are few. He could fight a guy at middleweight and defend his title or he could fight a guy at light heavyweight.
Chael Sonnen – Right off the bat this is the most obvious answer. This is the replacement that makes sense. However, it is unknown if Sonnen will be able to take this fight. First, he has a cut that he has to heal from. Second, he is currently making a run for the Oregon state senate. This endeavor could get in the way. Sonnen is next in line after Vitor, but he may not take the shot or he may not be able to, however rest assured Chael has gotten a phone call by now. If he passes it up he may have to wait even longer for a title shot because when Vitor is healthy he’s got dibbs on Silva.
Demian Maia – The other guy in the mix at middleweight. He is coming off of a win over Dan Miller at UFC 109. He is the guy many people feel deserves the shot. Though Maia lost to Marquardt he did easily defeat Chael Sonnen. His submission skills make an interesting match up for Anderson Silva. He has shown great improvement. Mark my words: do not be shock to see Maia get this fight at UFC 112.
The problem is that other guys who would normally be discussed aren’t good options now. Nate Marquardt would be a good fight, but he is coming off a loss, I’m not sure the UFC wants to do that. Yushin Okami has been passe dup time and time again, but he too is coming off a loss. I guess it is in the realm of possibility (but unlikely) that the Bisping vs. Wanderlei winner could make a quick turn around and take the fight.
There are not many fights at light heavyweight that make sense. Silva beat MMA Planet’s number 5 ranked light heavyweight in his last fight. The four guys ranked above him have fights scheduled. All the other decent light heavyweight talent has fights scheduled except Thiago Silva and Luis Cane. Thiago Silva is out until summer with an injury. Cane is coming off of a loss to little Nog.
There can always be speculation of a big signing, but that caliber signing is unlikely. Gegard Mousasi did reportedly leave M-1 Global recently, but he is still tied to Strikeforce. Jake Shields has a fight in April with Strikeforce. That exhausts those options.
My guess….Chael Sonnen. I think the UFC makes it worth his while to take the fight. If not Sonnen, Maia will be the guy.