At 37-years-old and 15 years into his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career, Anderson Silva has reached a plateau. Widely considered the pound-for-pound greatest fighter who ever competed in the sport, the Brazilian badass is no longer interested in satisfying the needs of his employer.
Instead, he just wants to take fights he finds interesting. And profitable, of course.
That's bad news for Chris Weidman, an extremely talented but still relatively inexperienced middleweight who recently attained number one contender status in the division by blasting Mark Munoz at the UFC on FUEL TV 4 event this past July 11 in San Jose.
It was arguably the best single performance by any fighter this year, or at least somewhere close to it. But his lack of fame in comparison to other available options has the "Spider" camp dismissing him as the next challenger to the throne.
That's not something Weidman is willing to accept. Actually, he's got a few theories of his own on why Silva may be avoiding a fight against him, namely that he feels he's a "stylistic nightmare" for the 185-pound champ (via ESPN):
"I'm going to say that's probably the biggest reason. [Silva's] management has kind of tried to downplay me, because honestly I am a stylistic nightmare for that guy. No question about it. On paper, Mark Munoz is a lot harder fight for me. He's got good wrestling, so I could have been stuck on my feet, and he has good hands, so I could have got knocked out. So I took that fight knowing it was a tough challenge. Anderson Silva? I've got better wrestling, better jiiu-jitsu, so I have a lot more on my side."
It seems Weidman saw what Chael Sonnen was able to do in two fights against Silva and now he, not unlike so many others, thinks he could defeat a man who hasn't lost in 15 career fights inside the Octagon.
Without a single loss among them.
Wishful thinking? Perhaps. Or maybe Weidman is good enough to get the job done and he probably deserves his chance to prove as much. After all, that's the only way we could ever find out for sure.
The problem, and there's no way Weidman doesn't know and understand this, is there are simply bigger fish to fry. Silva reportedly has his sights set on a superfight against Georges St. Pierre, either at a catchweight or at 170-pounds. As long as that match-up is a possibility, there's no reason at all for "The Spider" to risk anything in a tough match-up against a fighter he would have trouble selling pay-per-views with.
Difficult fight + smaller payday = no dice.