What's next for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who could return to the octagon this spring? Chris Weidman is a possibility, but no one seems to be ready to commit.
Silva, the UFC's longtime titleholder and the world's top pound-for-pound fighter, has made no firm promises about his next opponent. In recent months, rumored possibilities have run the gamut of the welterweight, middleweight and light-heavyweight divisions: Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, Luke Rockhold, Cung Le and – before their recent losses – Michael Bisping, Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch.
Weidman (9-0 MMA, 5-0 UFC), who's been on the sidelines since a dominant win over Mark Munoz this past summer, has been the most vocal about wanting the opportunity against Silva (33-4 MMA, 16-0 UFC) .
"Weidman and his manager sat down and said, 'We want Anderson Silva. We want to fight him. I'm going to beat him. I'm going to be the next world champion,'" UFC President Dana White said. "I said, 'OK. We'll call you in a few weeks.'"
However, Silva and Co., including manager Ed Soares, have expressed little desire in a matchup they feel is unmarketable.
"This is typical Anderson Silva-Ed Soares craziness," White said. "Every f---ing time there's a fight, he wants to fight 'Mighty Mouse' Johnson. Then he wants to fight this guy and that guy. It's always the same deal. It always happen. 'I absolutely will not fight Chael Sonnen. He doesn't deserve the title.' This is what we do."
Weidman, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American wrestler, joined the UFC with a late-notice opportunity and a meager 4-0 record. However, the 28-year-old has quickly emerged as a contender following wins over Alessio Sakara, Jesse Bongfeldt, Tom Lawlor, Demian Maia and Munoz.
Weidman was slated to fight Boetsch in a featured bout this past month at UFC 155. However, a shoulder injury ultimately forced him out of the bout and onto the sidelines. He underwent successful surgery for a torn labrum and rotator cuff, an AC joint separation and a slight ligament tear back in November.
Upon his return, Weidman said he still wants Silva. But though White has suggested the champ's next challenge will come from the middleweight division, it won't necessarily be Weidman.
"We're waiting on something and want to see if this thing pans out," White said. "When we're ready to announce it, we'll announce it. [Silva] will defend his title, but it won't be a super fight."