This is possibly one of the most problematic fights to ever be booked, not only because of what it means for both Silva & Weidmans legacies, but because who and how they win potentially creates more questions than it does answers.
Let's say Silva goes in and gets dominated for 5 rounds but pulls out a crazy sub or knockout in the bottom of the fifth. Do you do an immediate rubbermatch? Historically there aren't grounds for it, Weidman hasn't had some hugely dominant run as champion, and while they gave Chael a quick rematch it wasn't immediate. There's also the issue of contenders, with Lyoto Machida's devastating KO of Mark Munoz, and the rise of both Jacare and Vitor 2.0 (or TRT, depending who you ask) it would seem nearly unjust to grant the immediate rubber match. That being said, from a business perspective it is nearly suicidal because the likelihood of Weidman walking through any of the previously mentioned is wildly unlikely so you risk a massive payday, and potentially Weidmans legacy if you don't do the immediate rubbermatch.
Now let's suppose Silva goes in and flash KO's Weidman in the first round. You face the same issue here because they are effectively 1-1 and we still don't really know who the real current champ is. Most would argue that's how the first fight should have gone, but if they don't go a full round it will be difficult to argue that Silva was just always the superior fighter and Weidman really never had anything for him. So while Silva regains the belt and no immediate rematch is justified we walk away wondering whether the first one was a fluke or not.
The best case scenario we can hope for is Silva to basically repeat his last performance but KO Chris instead of get caught. If this happens we can chock the first fight up to Silva fooling around too much, getting caught and the world returns to normal. But even this has it's drawbacks, if Silva definitively puts Chris away who do you feed Silva next? Super Vitor hasn't added any new tricks, he's just faster and seemingly more powerful, but his style hasn't radically changed. Okay, so maybe he's fighting a bit more patiently, but he's still punch punch, kick kick Vitor. Plus we've already seen that fight in a division that is screaming for something new. So we feed him Jacare. Definitely an interesting fight, but his striking isn't on the same level as Silvas, and his takedowns aren't on the level with Weidman or Sonnen, so we're left with another Maia fight, or some dancing with a flash KO from a counter strike. I suppose that could turn into a five round war of attrition, but that seems highly unlikely. Now Lyoto vs Silva is a very interesting fight, but who knows if Silva would actually take it? The drawbacks of even the best case scenario are even troublesome. I suppose if Silva took out super Vitor, Jacare, and Machida we could at least put to rest the notion that he's been fighting inferior competition, but if he loses to one of them, particularly at his age, it creates all kinds of questions about Weidmans KO victory and it's legitimacy.
Now let's look at what happens if Weidman wins. If he goes in, takes him down and submits him or KO's him without any real issues, it leaves us with the question of how legitimate Silva's competition has been and whether (while certainly a truly special fighter) the amazing things he's done in the octagon have been more a result of inferior competition than brilliance. Or did he just suddenly wake up old? Again it depends on how he looks in that fight, but in the last fight he sure didn't look like he'd slowed down or lost his edge.
If it goes the full 5 and Silva out dances him while striking from the outside to a decision you almost end up with the same questions you have with a Weidman KO or sub. Not to take anything away from Anderson, but if he can't use the same tactics that allowed him to completely demoralize his opponents with Weidman then we have to wonder if he wouldn't have just looked similar to GSP with his wins had he faced a different caliper of competition.
Now let's assume Weidman wall and stalls him for 5 rounds. Does this constitute a new G.O.A.T because he beat the G.O.A.T twice? And how does this effect Silvas legacy? With an ugly decision victory it muddies the water immensely.
Then theres the worst case scenario where Silva and Weidman go the distance and it's a controversial decision. If it goes to Silva the immediate rubber match becomes nearly impossible to avoid but you tie up a rapidly filling division. If it goes to Weidman you can't really justify the rubber match, but depending on how controversial it is you almost can't risk either of them fighting someone else because the level of competition just beneath them is enough to put anyone at risk. Then if the rubber match never happens because one of them loses it becomes one of the most catastrophic events in MMA history!
No matter how this fight plays out with exception to Silva basically repeating his last performance and actually knocking Chris out this time instead of getting caught, you end up left with either more questions than answers, or a nearly impossible situation with who they fight next.
This is quite possibly the most interesting and yet most potentially volatile fights in the history of the sport, don't know about you guys, but I for one am very interested in seeing how this plays out.
Give your predictions, why, and who they fight next based on your prediction below. Curious to hear everyones take on this.
Silva picks Weidman apart much like the Franklin fight and either finishes in the third, or makes him look really bad for the full 5 and leaves no doubt.
Weidman fights Machida next, Vitor fights Silva after he roundhouse kicks Hendos head off.