RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Anderson Silva has fought the who's who of the middleweight division, and he believes one of his former opponents might be the one to dethrone current UFC 185-pound champion Chris Weidman.
Weidman, who stopped Silva twice in 2013, is expected to defend the middleweight belt in February against former light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort, and Silva sees "The Phenom" as a big challenge for "All American."
"In my opinion, Vitor is the most complete fighter at 185 pounds," Silva told the Brazilian media in a press conference in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday. "The most explosive, with the best boxing, good jiu-jitsu and wrestling. Weidman is young, (part of) the new generation, and is coming strong. It’s a fight everybody wants to see. I will root for Vitor to win, obviously."
"When I had the title, I always said that the title was ours. Being in Brazil, it’s all right," he added. "When you have two Brazilians fighting for the title, it’s because we’re good at what we do. I will root for Vitor."
Set to take on Nick Diaz on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas, Silva gave conflicting answers about fighting for the UFC title again on different occasions. At first, the Brazilian wasn’t interested in fighting Weidman again, or even fight for the title. Months later, he said he wouldn’t retire after competing for the UFC gold at least one more time.
During the recent press conference, Silva clarified that he wants the middleweight title, but won’t jump the line ahead of his teammates.
"No, I haven’t changed my mind," he explained. "In my team, we have ‘Jacare’ (Souza). At Black House, we have Lyoto (Machida) and Khalil (Rountree), who’s coming now and has all the weapons to fight for the title (one day). I’ve been through this before and I have to respect (them). Jacare has been doing a great job and he has my full support to fight for the title. He’s working to make this happen."
As for fighting for the title again, Silva would only do it if the champion isn’t one of his teammates -- and he’s open to fighting Weidman a third time, even if the title isn’t on the line.
"I wouldn’t fight Jacare, who is a friend, a brother, and I know how much he works and wants this. He earned it," he said. "If I have to fight Weidman one day, I will do it. A fight is a fight, but I won’t call anybody out."