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Fightweets: What does UFC 234 mean for Anderson Silva’s legacy?

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Jose Aldo is hot again and Anderson Silva’s in the most-talked-about fight on an upcoming pay-per-view card. So let’s party like it’s 2012 and get right into another edition of Fightweets.

What does Israel Adesanya fight mean for “The Spider”?

@RuckerYeah: What does UFC 234 mean for Anderson Silva’s legacy?

For Silva’s legacy? I mean, I think by this stage of the game, Silva’s legacy is just about set in stone: The longest-reigning champion in UFC history, who pulled off moves who no one ever thought possible in a real fight, who then went through a bumpier road than most when he got knocked off his throne, even by mixed martial arts’ considerable standards in that regard.

In the Octagon, there’s little that can be added to Silva’s legacy at this point. But if you saw the emotional scene at Friday’s weigh-in, then you know Silva’s UFC 234 experience in Melbourne has already added another chapter to his story we’ll discuss years down the road. Silva breaking down in tears as he made weight for his first fight in two years reminds us there is a human being who cares deeply about what he does for a living. The fact Adesanya, whose job it is Saturday night to try to inflict physical damage on Silva, noticeably reacted to Silva’s emotions is something we’ve never seen at a weigh-in, and might never again. It’s highly likely we’ll remember this scene above whatever happens in the cage tonight.

Now, what this fight means for Silva’s future is another matter. If Adesanya makes it look easy against Silva, and uses this as his springboard to fulfill his “next Anderson Silva” potential (side note: the fact both Adesanya and Silva bristle at that label in its own weird way feels like validation for the label), then Silva will have finally reached the stage of his career where the new feeds off the old. Silva isn’t the fighter he used to be, but nor has he by any means been getting blown out of fights.

If he wins? Well, UFC president Dana White has said in the run-up to this one that the winner of this fight gets next at middleweight. I know you immediately thought “Yeah, Dana says a lot of things,” but in this case, do you think White wouldn’t market the hell out of the notion of the legendary Anderson Silva making one last run at a championship? In the WME Big Fights At All Costs era, that’s a story that writes itself.

Regardless of what happens Saturday, know this: Come hell or high water, Silva is going to fight out the last three fights of this deal. That contract was signed at the peak of his powers, right before he lost the title loss to Chris Weidman. It’s obviously paying him more money per fight than he’s ever going to see in one night once his fight career is over. And if you’ve been to his Spider Kick gym in a swank part of West Hollywood, it is basically designed so that people with a lot of money who have no experience can pay a lot of money to go ahead and post on Instagram that they trained with Anderson Silva, the modern-day equivalent of Bruce Lee training rich people up in the Hollywood Hills for easy paychecks.

The point, here? Silva is understandably making sure he sets himself up for his future in the twilight of his career. Let’s consider ourselves fortunate that to this point, at least, he’s remained competitive in the cage along the way.

Waiting on lightweights

@Metoproziva: Anyone else tired of waiting for the 155lb division to get goin?

Welp, this was essentially my lead last week for Fightweets ... and a week later, it’s still the topic which elicited the most questions. But there’s been next-to-no clarity about the lightweight title picture in the intervening time. We know UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov, as of now, is insisting on sitting out as long as his teammates have to sit out. You can question if this is the right decision, but you can’t question his loyalty or his conviction in standing by what he believes is right.

On Friday, UFC president Dana White told ESPN that he’d consider creating an interim lightweight title if Nurmagomedov insists on staying out that long. In that’s case, let’s go ahead and make Dustin Poirier vs. Tony Ferguson for that interim belt. Ferguson hasn’t fought since UFC 229. Poirier’s been out even longer. We could get all the way through this waiting period and end up with Khabib vs. Conor McGregor anyway, so why should these guys sit on the sideline during their prime forever?

And yes, interim belts are meaningless, but as long as all parties understand going into this that this belt is simply a trophy being awarded for winning the fight, I mean, whatever it takes to get these two fighting is fine by me.

Jose Aldo vs. Yair Rodriguez?

@jblah3000: Yair Rodriguez does not deserve to step into the same octagon with a legend like Aldo. Jose says he’s got 2 more fights left....and one of them is going to be against Yair Rodriguez? Nah.

Welp, that’s one way to go about things. But after Aldo’s tremendous victory over Renato Moicano last weekend at UFC Fortaleza, ideas about which opponent should be next for the former longtime UFC and WEC featherweight champion is our next great “what’s next for?” in the sport.

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Fortaleza
Jose Aldo’s win at UFC Fortaleza was something to celebrate.
Jason Silva-USA TODAY Sports

Aldo has made it clear that he has a timetable for his exit, and that he doesn’t want to fight any more five-rounders. Can’t say I blame him on the latter after training for 14 straight potential five-rounders over the course of nearly a decade. So where do we go with this, with presumably two fights left?

Alexander Volkanovski seems to be the leader at the moment, with both sides saying they want it. Still, though, there’s some danger to his booking. Volkanovski is emerging as the brightest emerging contender to Max Holloway’s featherweight crown. If Aldo wins and makes him look bad in the process, you’ve chewed through a real contender with no upside, as there’s no appetite for Holloway-Aldo 3. At least if Volkanovski wins, there are still fun fight options for Aldo in a retirement fight.

Aldo vs. Rodriguez, on the other hand, offers an absolutely ridiculous style matchup that promises fireworks from the jump. And it offers Rodriguez, coming off his all-time memorable win over Chan Sung Jung last November, another chance to prove himself against an elite name after he faceplanted two years ago against Frankie Edgar. I don’t mind that fight at all.

Beyond that? I can’t lie, against my better judgment part of me still hopes that Aldo rematches Cub Swanson, a re-do of Aldo’s eight-second knockout back in the WEC days, sometime before he’s through. Are there better options? Yes. But when you fixate on a rematch long enough, you find yourself irrationally wanting to see it. I still want to see Robbie Lawler-Nick Diaz 2, and that has five years on Aldo-Swanson.

Colby’s “lawsuit”

@Woolman7242L What gets tossed faster/with more prejudice by a court: Nevada’s ban on trash talk or Colby’s “lawsuit”?

There’s been absolutely no follow-up talk from the Nevada Athletic Commission about that idea on punishing fighter speech that was half-assed thrown out there during their last hearing, so unless it suddenly appears on the agenda of a future meeting, let’s hope they heard the brush back to this idea and backed off.

As for Colby Covington’s threats to sue the UFC over not getting a welterweight title shot after winning the interim belt? Here’s the problem with that: When you’ve made a cartoon character out of yourself, people aren’t going to take you seriously if you have a real-world problem, even on the sort of issue on which people would otherwise be inclined to take your side.

Troll enough people enough times, and no one is going to have sympathy for your plight when you actually need people to rally around you. That goes doubly so if you’re making a pitch for fighter rights the first time something negative happens to you after you’ve been trashing your fellow fighters.

I admittedly am not privy to the wording of Covington’s contract, but given the UFC’s track record in court on these matters, it’s not a stretch to assume the UFC included contractual language in their interim championship contracts that cover exactly these circumstances. All in all, in this case, Covington is probably best off heeding Tyron Woodley’s advice.

Stoppage issues

@Lankydave94: @lthomasnews was talking about corner stoppages and the lack thereof in a recent video and it made me think.. Should mma have some kind of a mercy rule of sorts as a failsafe for late stoppages/unwillingness to throw in the towel? Thanks

So, if I’m reading this correctly, I think you’re asking for something along the lines of a tech fall in amateur wrestling, which, at the NCAA level, means the bout is stopped if there’s a 15-point scoring differential. Or maybe you just mean the old-fashion Little League term where a game gets called off after one team scores a certain number of runs.

I don’t know how you would go about this, exactly. Scores aren’t posted live as we go in MMA, and even if we did, whatever threshold you’d have to hit to wave off a bout based on scoring would almost never be hit in a three-round, 10-point must system. Nor does boxing’s three-knockdown rule, which most of the sport ignores anyway, really directly apply, not when MMA has so many other aspects to the game besides punching. I’m open to hearing suggestions, but have a hard time conceiving of a numbers-based scheme for stopping an MMA bout.

Either way, this idea started making the rounds again after clips of a fight in Germany recently started making the rounds, in which a referee, long past the point he should have stopped the fight, missed the fact the losing corner’s team had thrown in the towel. In that case, there seems a fix for this: If a losing fighter’s team has thrown in the towel to signal the end of the fight, and the referee doesn’t see it, empower the other cageside officials to do something about it. Let the timekeeper blare the horn. In this case, the fighter’s immediate safety should outweigh the authority of the referee in the cage who is making an honest mistake.

Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa

@doyle5252: How psyched are you for Costa-Romero?

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