After UFC 153 was over, after Anderson Silva finished adding more mind-blowing moments to his highlight reel and putting his UFC record win streak even further out of reach of the rest of the fight world, his boss couldn't stop gushing.
Dana White said he wished Silva was 27 years old, and that he wanted 12 more years of him. He said Silva was the greatest fighter of all time, in any combat sport.
Finally, he summed it up like this: "I feel like I'm dealing with an artist."
At 37 years old, the violence virtuoso is still at the top of his game, but unlike a Picasso or a Bach, Silva can not continue producing his master works into old age. While he has voiced an interest in fighting for five more years, he knows that's no guarantee that his fighting days will last that long. So, both sides agree, the immediate future must include some major fights for him. Super fights. The only question is, which one?
Silva, who has now won all 16 of his UFC bouts, will have a huge say in his next step. But so will his boss. And right now, they don't seem to be on the same page.
Several times on Saturday, Silva opposed the idea of going up to light-heavyweight for a fourth time, this time to face current champion Jon Jones.
Silva feigned fear when Jones' name came up, but he said that because he has so many teammates that fight at 205, he'd prefer to see one of them eventually earn the right to face Jones.
"And I'm old, guys," he added. "I'm getting old. I'm retired. I'm nearly there. I've only got another five years."
It was at that point when White jumped in.
"I will fly down here, I'll lock myself in a room with Jorge [Guimaraes], Ed Soares and him, and I’ll make this fight," he said, referencing Silva's managers.
At that, Silva shook his head and playfully wagged his fingers "no."
The middleweight champion says he's not planning on taking any more trips to 205. From here on, it's either defending the belt, or a fight with Georges St-Pierre.
Clearly, his preference is the latter.
Silva said that he has two fights left on his current deal, and that he expects one of them to be with St-Pierre. But as White noted, there is still one obstacle in the way. Namely, St-Pierre has to beat Carlos Condit at next month's UFC 154.
"I think it'd be a great challenge for me," Silva said. "I prefer him over Jon Jones. He’s smaller. It'll be a little bit easier. I’ll be hit less."
White said he expects to begin negotiating a new deal for Silva soon, and it's a lock that the issue of who is next for "the Spider" will come up. In the end, they're both strong options.
"I know this: the Georges St-Pierre fight is a big fight," White said. "I think the Jon Jones fight is a big fight. I know my man says, 'No, no, no,' but the amount of money that would be offered for that fight, I guarantee you I will make Anderson Silva say, 'Yes, yes, yes.'"
When it comes to his fight career, few have been able to make Silva do something he doesn't want to do.
White will surely devise a plan to get it done, and perhaps the first phase of that lies in the prestige associated with the massive show that would ensure.
Befitting of a superfight, White said that he expects to take Silva and champion TBD to a stadium, mentioning Cowboys Stadium in Dallas as the leading contender. Although Silva's popularity continues to explode in his home country, White said the Texas stadium's retractable roof takes the elements out of play, a major concern for an event that would likely challenge the sport's all-time gate and attendance records.