January 22, 2013

Rashad Evans and the Case For An Immediate Middleweight Title Shot

By Adam Martin

So, perhaps we will get to see UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a super fight in 2013 after all.

Last Saturday night, Vitor Belfort knocked out Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC on FX 7, which immediately threw the UFC’s middleweight division into flux yet again. Had Bisping beat Belfort, he would have been Silva’s next challenge. But he lost, and now Silva is sitting on the sidelines still, with no new fight lined up.

Belfort, surprisingly, asked for UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones after defeating Bisping. Chris Weidman, who many believe can dethrone Silva, is currently out with an injury. Luke Rockhold, the former Strikeforce middleweight champion, might not yet be ready to take on Silva. UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre took a fight with Nick Diaz. And Jones took a fight with Chael Sonnen, leaving Silva with few options for his next bout.

Cue Rashad Evans.

The former UFC light heavyweight champion took part in the UFC 156 media conference call today, and stated that he would consider a drop to 185 pounds if he was granted an immediate title shot against Silva, or at least a No. 1 contender’s bout. Considering there is no clear-cut contender at 185 pounds, it’s possible Evans can cut the line and get a fight against Silva should he defeat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in the co-main event of UFC 156.

Now Evans vs. Silva is a super fight to get excited for.

Silva, as most agree, is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and the top middleweight by far. Evans, on the other hand, is universally regarded as the No. 2 light heavyweight in the world. Sure, he couldn’t beat Jones, but with the exception of Lyoto Machida, Evans has absolutely demolished any other light heavyweight the UFC has ever placed in his path.

But can he beat Silva?

It’s a tall task, but Evans definitely has the skill set to make this a competitive fight. We’ve seen that Silva has problems with wrestlers, and there aren’t many fighters who have better wrestling for MMA than Evans. Evans is also a fantastic standup fighter with crisp boxing and solid footwork, making him a stylistic matchup nightmare for most fighters in the UFC, including Silva.

I’m not saying Evans would defeat Silva, but the fight would be competitive, and it could be a huge PPV draw. Silva is Zuffa’s No. 2 PPV draw behind St-Pierre, while Evans sits in the top five alongside St-Pierre, Jones, and Sonnen. That’s lofty company, and if Silva wants to fight someone who’s going to help boost the box-office sales, there’s no doubt Evans can be the guy.

It makes sense to do this fight at the fourth of July event in Las Vegas. That will give Evans enough time to drop the weight, and for Silva to be well-prepared for the man who may be the toughest test of his career to date.

Sure, it may not seem right for Evans to drop to 185 and get a quick title shot, but consider that Frankie Edgar is fighting Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title despite having no fights at 145, that Diaz is coming off a loss and fighting St-Pierre for the 170-pound strap, and that Sonnen is coming off a loss to Silva and fighting Jones for the 205-pound title. So why not Evans?

There really isn’t any reason not to make this fight. If Evans beats Nogueira at UFC 156 and calls out Silva, the UFC needs to make this fight. This is the super fight we’ve been waiting for, and it will be an absolute epic if it actually ever happens, so here’s to hoping it does.

For a dissenting viewpoint, check out: Three Wrongs Don’t Make a Right: Why a Rashad Evans Middleweight Title Shot is a Bad Idea.


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