LAS VEGAS -- The Anderson Silva sweepstakes has heated up in the last two weeks, right around the time Michael Bisping lost a fight that could have propelled him into a title match with the long-reigning UFC middleweight champion. With multiple candidates for the role opposite Silva jockey for position, a dark horse has emerged: Rashad Evans.
Despite competing as a light-heavyweight for virtually his entire UFC career, Evans could have a pot of gold waiting for him at the end of the UFC 156 rainbow if he can beat Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and agree to reinvent himself as a 185-pounder.
The fight's possibility grew on Thursday when Dana White confirmed his interest in the bout.
"I would consider Rashad," he said when MMA Fighting asked the UFC president if Evans could vault the other divisional contenders. "If Rashad won on Saturday night and wanted to go to 185, we would consider that."
"Is that your preference?" I asked White.
"I'm considering it," he said with a smile.
Right now, the most likely possibilities for Silva are Evans or Chris Weidman, the surging New Yorker who is coming off a shoulder surgery. White said middleweight champion Luke Rockhold would probably be slotted against Vitor Belfort.
Evans has not shied away from discussing the fight even as he makes his final preparations to face Nogueira.
"I would definitely do it," he said. "WIth that said I have a tremendous amount of respect for Anderson Silva and what he's done in the UFC. I think he's one of the greatest fighters. I would love to get a chance to fight Anderson. But it's all about the UFC making sure they put that together and make sure it happens. The UFC has been very good at giving the fans what they want to see, so if they gave me the opportunity to fight Anderson, I would love to fight Anderson. But I don't want to get distracted from my opponent over there. He's definitely trying to make sure I don't progress any further.
Evans though said that if push came to shove, he doesn't think Silva would want to fight him, and that the kingpin would be well within his rights to turn it down.
"I think he's thinking along the lines of [Georges St-Pierre]," Evans said when asked which big name he thought Silva wanted to fight. "Not saying I'm better than GSP, but in his mind he's bigger than GSP so he's a better matchup for him. I don't think he'll want to fight me. But Anderson, he has a right to be picky about who he'll fight. He's pretty much cleaning out his weight class and beat everyone he's fighting by a long shot. I guess when you do that you can afford to be picky."