Photo by Esther Lin via MMAfighting.com
Talk may be cheap, but it sure does do a good job of getting mixed martial arts (MMA) fans to buy tickets and pay-per-views (PPV).
Thus was the case when it came to UFC 148, which featured one of the most exciting rematches in Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) history, between UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva and the sultan of smack talk, Chael Sonnen.
After two years of talking, insulting and even making threats, it was time for the top two 185-pounders on the planet to get inside the Octagon and work out their differences at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 7, 2012.
For a round, it looked like it was going to be a repeat of the last time these two exchanged pleasantries inside the cage.
All that came to a crashing halt when, in round two, Sonnen got greedy, went for a dramatic spinning backfist that missed badly, slipped to the mat and was finished by "The Spider" shortly thereafter.
Afterwards, Silva invited Sonnen over for a barbecue.
After the jump, we'll take a look at what may be next for the big winner of UFC 148, Anderson Silva:
Leading up to the fight, speculation ran rampant that Sonnen may have actually been getting inside the head of Silva, who, before UFC 148, had seemed unflappable.
After making outright physical threats to Sonnen during the UFC 148 press conference call and engaging in somewhat bush league altercations during the press conference and weigh-in staredowns, the onus was on Silva to prove that his emotions had not gotten the best of him.
And prove it, he did.
The champion showed exactly why he has been widely considered for years to be the "Greatest of All Time" (GOAT) in the sport of MMA.
Now that he finally has the Chael Sonnen monkey off his back, what's next for Silva?
Though many hardcore fans are going to cry "foul," the honest answer is that Silva's next opponent will probably be Hector Lombard, who will be taking on Tim Boetsch at UFC 149 at Calgary, Alberta, on July 21, 2012, should he emerge victorious.
If "Shango" should fall prey to Boetsch, it would certainly shake things up.
Michael Bisping is coming off a loss and a serious injury, so unfortunately for "The Count," that's a match up that doesn't make a lot of sense. Not right now, anyway.
Brian Stann is a worthy contender, but I'm pretty sure the UFC is going to want to see him string a couple noteworthy wins together, after being submitted by Sonnen at UFC 136 in Houston, Texas, on Oct. 8, 2011. His win versus Alessio Sakara at UFC on FUEL TV 2 in Stockholm, Sweden, on Apr. 14, 2012, was impressive, but it will take more than that to merit a title shot.
If Lombard is unable to beat Boetsch, the likely candidate for number one contender would be Alan Belcher, who is riding a very nice four-fight win streak, and recently dismantled submission expert Rousimar Palhares in their bout at UFC on Fox 3 in East Rutherford, New Jersey, on May 5, 2012.
It may not be a huge moneymaker, but it makes the most sense.
You can bet that UFC brass will be crossing their fingers, knocking on wood and praying to God that Tim Boetsch doesn't win on July 21.
What it comes down to is that Silva should be making his next title defense opposite Lombard but Belcher and the winner of Mark Munoz vs. Chris Weidman are also candidates.
How do those match ups suit you? Think you can do better?