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http://mmajunkie.com Yushin Okami
With his sixth straight victory and fourth successful title defense, Anderson Silva has created one big mess in the UFC’s middleweight division. After all, after defeating Dan Henderson at Saturday’s UFC 82 event, what’s possibly next?

We briefly explored the topic in a special piece for today’s Dayton Daily News.

Entering this past weekend’s event in Columbus, Ohio, Henderson was widely regarded as the fighter most likely to dethrone Silva. And while he gave the Brazilian a handful in the first round of their main-event fight, Silva eventually ended it via rear-naked choke in the second.

In a post-event press conference, UFC president Dana White discussed some of the options. Well, he didn’t so much discuss the options as he was bombarded with questions about them. Everyone wants to know what’s next for the world’s undisputed top 185-lb. fighter.

A few options I mentioned in the Dayton Daily News included:

  • Yushin Okami: With a stunning knockout of Evan Tanner at UFC 82, Okami would seem to be the logical choice to fight Silva next. With a 6-1 mark in the UFC and a previous victory over Silva (via disqualification from an illegal kick at a 2006 Rumble on the Rock event), Okami has undoubtedly earned the title shot. However, the Japanese fighter is just now starting to gel with fans, but even Dana White acknowledged that his fighting style has likely hindered his popularity. White mentioned the bout as a possibility but wouldn’t go as far as confirming it. The bigger question, though, is whether the UFC can effectively market this fight. Luckily, the organization is so full of talent that a single main event no longer needs to carry an entire UFC show. However, much like Silva’s fight with Travis Lutter, the bout could end up feeling like a mere annoyance — rather than a legit challenge — since Silva will likely be so heavily favored.
  • Nate Marquardt: As I mentioned in the Dayton Daily News story, Marquardt failed miserably in his first Silva fight back at UFC 73. However, his strength — submissions — is Silva’s only marginal weakness. However, like the Okami fight, this one could be difficult to market.
  • Quinton Jackson: A fight with the UFC’s light heavyweight champion is possible — but probably not anytime soon. White and UFC matchaker Joe Silva would likely want to exhaust all other options before scheduling this bout and sacrificing one of the organization’s champs.
  • Rich Franklin: Silva has dominated him twice, and a third fight is unlikely. Still, Silva says Franklin has been his toughest challenge in the UFC, and the former champ has a big following.
  • Paulo Filho: A fight with the WEC middleweight champ is a pipe dream. Filho and Silva are training partners and unwilling to fight each other. Silva said as much at Saturday’s press conference.

I had to abide by a word count for the Dayton Daily News, but I can discuss some other possibilities here on MMAjunkie.com.

  • Matt Hughes: Hughes would have to move up a weight class, and despite a recent loss to Georges St. Pierre in December, he could resurrect his career with a victory. Yet, a loss wouldn’t do much to tarnish an already-remarkable resume. Hughes could frustrate Silva with his ground game, but the size and reach disadvantage would be noticeable.
  • The “Other” Guys: They’re not totally deserving, and the UFC would have to get creative with marketing the bouts (possibly taking the fights to the challengers’ hometowns), but UFC middleweights such as Michael Bisping, Patrick Cote, Ricardo Almeida, Ed Herman and Thales Leites are options. Not ideal options — but options nonetheless.
  • Matt Lindland: Forget it. As TAGG Radio and MMAjunkie.com previously reported, Lindland said that the UFC refused his request even to negotiate a possible deal. Since then, he’s reportedly signed with some mystery organization.

For the full story, head over to DaytonDailyNews.com.

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