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Fightweets: Is Anderson Silva's legacy permanently tarnished?

Guilherme Cruz photo

It's a strange weekend we have, here, one with no big-league mixed martial arts on the docket.

Of course, we had plenty of news during the week to keep us chattering, from Anderson Silva's Nevada suspension to the convenient announcement of Chris Weidman vs. Luke Rockhold just hours after the suspension was handed down.

So let's get started, then, on another edition of Fightweets.

Is Anderson Silva's legacy tarnished?

@1hol1buddy: Silva failed his one and only random drug test in the UFC. Does this raise suspicion about his entire career?

Yes and no. I mean, sure, when you fail your only random drug test of your career, that raises doubts. And it leads to further questions, like, why would someone who was bouncing around from PRIDE to Cage Rage and whatnot in his 20s suddenly go on a ridiculous tear in the UFC in his 30s?

Still, when the dust settles, I don't know that this will leave his entire body of work in tatters. Consider Royce Gracie. He popped for steroids late in his career and he took his fair share of heat for it. But today, he's once again beloved, almost a grandfather figure in the sport.

Likewise, just as the memories of Gracie's fights outweighed his disgrace toward the end, my hunch is that Silva's spectacular victories are just as emblematic of a glory period in MMA. When push comes to shove, the Bruce Lee "one-inch punch" finish of Forrest Griffin; the face-kick knockout of Vitor Belfort; the miracle finish against Chael Sonnen in the first fight and the knee from hell in the second; are simply going to be too much for all but his most ardent detractors to admire.

That's not to say this hasn't been a deeply embarrassing period in Silva's career. Silva's career is likely to be viewed in terms of before and after his knockout loss to Chris Weidman, with the events of the past couple years like the low point in an episode of "Behind the Music."

But, look, we live in a combat sports world in which Mike Tyson is regarded as a hero. In that context, especially when fans can rationalize that Silva cheated out of desperation late in his career, it's not too hard to envision the people will come back around on him over time.

Weidman vs. Rockhold as co-headliner

@RuckerYeah: Is it an insult to Chris Weidman that they're putting him in the co-main event at UFC 194?

Nah. Obviously Chris Weidman's middleweight title defense against Luke Rockhold could headline any card on its own. But, I think there's another way to look at this. In this new UFC era, the one in which Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor have replaced Silva and Georges St-Pierre as the leading pay-per-view stars, Weidman is thisclose to breaking through as a full-fledged superstar in his own right. And Rockhold himself has breakthrough star potential.

The UFC wanted to put together a loaded-up show on Dec. 12 in Las Vegas. If Weidman and Rockhold come out and put on a fight even remotely close to what Robbie Lawler and Rory McDonald did at UFC 189 -- in front of hundreds of thousands of extra viewers who were tuning in to see Conor McGregor fight who wouldn't have purchased Weidman-Rockhold on its own -- then you've got the opportunity to give one or both of these guys the final big push into real stardom.

(And hey, someone has to say it: If one of these fights or the other falls out, you've still got a killer main event left over).

So yeah, in the short run, Weidman's ego might take a bit of a bruising by going as the co-headliner. But in the long run, the potential long-term benefits outweigh any such concerns.

Should Velasquez have gotten a rematch this fast?

@sammyhong: What did Cain Velasquez do to prove he deserves an immediate rematch with Fabricio Werdum? Absolutely nothing.

Well, "absolutely nothing" is a bit much. We're talking about a two-time former UFC heavyweight champ here. It's not like they're throwing Derrick Lewis into a title fight.

If we were going the rematch route with Werdum, there's Andrei Arlovski, who is as hot as he's ever going to get at the moment; and Junior dos Santos, who infamously knocked Werdum out of the UFC in 2008.

It's not like Werdum's win over Velasquez at UFC 188 was a Johny Hendricks-Robbie Lawler 1 scenario, in which was both 1. Fight of the Year caliber and 2. a razor-thin decision. Werdum basically destroyed Velasquez (Yes, it was at high elevation. Both fighters had to fight at this elevation. Werdum's been pretty good at sea level, too, in case you haven't noticed). If any scenario called out for a tuneup fight before committing to another title shot, Velasquez would seem to be it.

Of course, another way to look at this is that UFC has decent title-eliminator-type fights in Stipe Miocic vs. Ben Rothwell; Arlovski vs. Frank Mir; and presumably dos Santos vs. Alistair Overeem.

Ultimately, it's not the direction I would have gone in, and your opinion, sammy, seems to be the majority view. But nor is it their worst.

A NAC for bad officiating

@chjobin: What will need to happen so Mazzagatti stops refereeing fights? Why so much loyalty?

Well, let's see ... Steve Mazzagatti oversaw the infamous first fight between Anthony Johnson and Kevin Burns, in which "Rumble" got one of the worst eye pokes in the history of the sport and needed surgery to fix a detached retina afterwards. And The Mazz of course was the third man in for the equally infamous Rousimar Palhares vs. Jake Shields fight, in which Palhares acted like some sort of horror movie monster who needed to feed on human eyes in order to survive. So I guess the answer to your question, chjobin, is "someone will have to go blind, first."

We haven't seen Mazzagatti much on recent UFC events in Las Vegas. It seems clear he's on the Nevada Athletic Commission's B-team, along with Chris Tognoni and Kim Winslow. So at least the current commission has toned it down from the era in which previous executive director Keith Kizer seemed to go out of his way to put Mazz in the main events of huge cards out of pure spite. But that means little to someone like Shields, and it shouldn't happen again. It's past due time for NAC to hold their own fight-night officials to the same standards they expect out of fighters and promoters.

Redemption day

@KevinMuhleisen: Who is more likely to redeem themselves: Cerrone or Valasquez?

First, off, kudos to both the UFC and FOX for putting the Raphael dos Anjos vs. Donald Cerrone lightweight title fight, scheduled for Dec. 19 in Orlando, on free television. Over the past year, it seems like both sides have honed in on the right equation for which bouts should main event these cards: Fights featuring fighters with fan followings in meaningful matchups that aren't quite PPV blockbusters, but are big enough to make fans feel like they're not getting a "B"-card matchup, either.

Dos Anjos vs. Cerrone follows T.J. Dillashaw vs. Renano Barao 2, which followed Lyoto Machida vs. Luke Rockhold, which followed Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Johnson, which followed Junior dos Santos vs. Stipe Miocic. It's developing into one hell of a run.

As for your question, I've got to go with Cerrone. For one thing, it's not like Cerrone was blown out against RDA when they fought in 2013. It was a 29-28, across the board decision. Since then, as we all know, Cerrone has won eight straight, corrected many of his flaws, and is simply a better fighter than he once was. You can't say that for Cain, who has been injury-prone, inactive, and took a wicked beating from Werdum the first time around. It's hard to see what might be different the second time (other than elevation, which everyone seems to forget affects both fighters).

Is Evans still a factor?

@pinheiroandre: Is Rashad Evans still relevant? He hasn't fought in 20 months, lost to Lil Nog and beat Henderson and Sonnen in last 3.

Evans has been out of the spotlight for awhile now, but he's absolutely still relevant. The former UFC light heavyweight champion's bout with Ryan Bader at UFC 192 will be his first fight in nearly two years. But he happens to be returning to one of the UFC's thinnest divisions. There's no guarantee, at all, that Jon Jones is returning any time soon.

The fight with Bader could very well be a title eliminator. If Bader wins, he adds the biggest name in his career to his resume, wins five straight, and that should be enough to propel him to the title. If Evans win, he's back, he's one three of four, he's a sellable name in a title fight, and he's a fresh opponent for either Daniel Cormier or Alexander Gustafsson in a division where we're coming dangerously close to having all the top guys having fought each other. So yeah, maybe he's been out of sight, but he hasn't been out of mind in the divisional scheme.

Got a question for a future edition of Fightweets? Go to my Twitter page and leave me a tweet.

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