UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva turned quite a few heads in the past 24 hours with news that the Brazilian accepted a light heavyweight fight against James Irvin at UFC Fight Night 14 at The Pearl at the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada, on July 19.
As we reported yesterday, win or lose Silva will retain his 185-pound belt. And he is not vacating it as some have suggested -- he's merely taking a temporary leave of absence because his boss, UFC President Dana White, asked him if he's up for the challenge.
Here's a snip from Silva on the decision to take the fight on short notice via SI.com:
"If the UFC asks me to do something, and it's within my capability to do so, I'm going to do it. I feel like I'm part of the UFC family and the head of the family asked me to fight. I'm in condition to fight, my coaches say I can fight -- I'm going to fight. I want to do whatever I can to help make UFC the No. 1 event around the world like it is."
If he can escape the bout against Irvin injury-free, White might also put in another request: Defend his middleweight title against number one contender Yushin Okami at UFC 88: "Breakthrough" at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Ga., less than seven weeks later on September 6.
It's a fight that needs to happen because Okami is the last man to defeat "Spider" at Rumble on the Rock (ROTR) 8 back in 2006. However, Silva was disqualified for an illegal up kick, which he has since attributed to a misinterpretation of the rules.
He'll likely come fired up to clear up any confusion.
Okami has won six of seven fights inside the Octagon -- his only blip during that span is a unanimous decision loss to former middleweight champion, Rich Franklin, at UFC 72: "Victory" back in June 2007. He has a patient and effective style that could cause some problems for the champion, who has not gone past round two since 2004.
It would be nice to find out ... that's for sure. Stay healthy, Anderson.