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Who's next for UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva?

anderson Silva
It's been almost 48 hours since UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson Silva, successfully defended his 185-pound title against Dan Henderson at UFC 82: "Pride of a Champion."

In doing so the Brazilian extended his unbeaten streak inside the Octagon (6-0) and perhaps cemented his status as the top pound-for-pound mixed martial arts fighter on the planet (even though he doesn't think so).

He also more or less wiped out the entire category, defeating top ranked fighters such as Henderson, Rich Franklin (twice), Nate Marquardt and Travis Lutter during his jaw-dropping stint with the UFC.

Henderson was supposed to finally be the man -- who on paper -- could at least take the "Spider" into deep water and test his resolve. He was a decorated Greco-Roman wrestler who had evolved into a dangerous all-around fighter thanks in large part to a devastating right hand.

He didn't last 10 minutes.

During the post-event press conference, UFC President Dana White marveled at the performance and assured those listening that "exciting" things were planned for Silva going forward.

That's a bit odd, considering that Yushin Okami is perhaps the only man left on the roster who has earned the opportunity to challenge for the belt. And "exciting" and "Yushin Okami" go together like mayonnaise and bananas.

It's more like "methodical."

As the last man to defeat Silva -- albeit via an illegal upkick and disqualification -- there is a bit of history there that could help sell the fight.

But could that match up alone sell out an arena and send pay-per-view (PPV) buys soaring? The short answer is no because neither fighter has really connected with the majority of American fans and because it might be perceived globally as another mismatch.

If the bout is indeed booked, and don't get me wrong I think Okami could make it competitive, it would have to be packaged with a major draw such Chuck Liddell or Brock Lesnar. That's not even taking into account that Okami, according to White at the post-event press conference, apparently broke his hand during the Evan Tanner fight this past weekend and the timetable for his return at this point is up in the air.

So what sort of "exciting" possibilities does that leave?

It certainly excludes Matt Lindland -- perhaps the most talented 185-pound free agent out there. But there's talk that the Henderson-esque fighter just inked a deal with another mystery promotion and, even before that, the UFC expressed there was really no interest in bringing him back into the fray anyway.

Denis Kang is another option, but there's no way he'd be brought in (if that's even possible) and given an immediate title shot. It's also safe to say that the Robbie Lawler, Frank Shamrock and Frank Trigg ships have already sailed.

WEC Middleweight Champion, Paulo Filho, would be a great test, but he's in the WEC because Silva is in the UFC. Silva and Filho are friends and training partners and have indicated in the past that a fight between the two would never happen.

Long story short, the UFC will more than likely have to find a challenger for Silva already on its roster. And the current list at middleweight, as we've explained, is a short one.

An interesting twist here is that Silva remarked after the Henderson win that he'd entertain the possibility of fighting in other divisions. In fact, he mentioned that he'd prefer to move down -- not up -- to test his luck elsewhere if called upon to do so.

The list of competitors at welterweight is robust with two names taking center stage: Georges St. Pierre and Matt Hughes. Both have expressed an interest in the past about fighting in the 185-pound class.

St. Pierre has some business to take care of first, which includes a showdown with Matt Serra at UFC 83 next month to determine the undisputed welterweight champion. If he wins it would seem unlikely that the UFC would pit two of its champions against one another.

Hughes on the other hand is on the downside of a remarkable career and is looking for a spark to jump start it once again. He also has countless fans and a high profile name that could create something of a megabout against Silva.

Win or lose he'd come off as a fearless former champion who stepped up to take on the most dominant fighter in the sport today.

But would the UFC really want to take that risk? Hughes has quite a legacy with the promotion as the most dominant welterweight champion of his time and he's a sure-fire hall of famer.

Probably not ... but anything is possible.

What's more possible as I sit here and go through all the possible scenarios is a battle with the current UFC Lightweight Champion, BJ Penn.

"The Prodigy" also has a scheduled bout in the near future against Sean Sherk at UFC 84: "Ill Will" in May. He's also the former welterweight champion and one of only two men (Randy Couture being the other) to hold two UFC belts in two separate weight divisions.

I know ... he's a reigning champion and I just ruled out St. Pierre on that same technicality if he is to defeat Serra. However, Penn has always expressed an interest to one day hold a title in every weight division, including heavyweight ... so why not let him?

It would certainly be exciting. It would also help clear up that whole "pound-for-pound" thing.

Call me crazy.

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