(Who says you can’t go home? Pic: SB Nation)
Sometimes it feels like nearly every middleweight fighter not crippled, crazy or comatose has gone on record in the last few months expressing a desire to fight Wanderlei Silva. At the risk of turning this post into a glorified game of MMA telephone, the reconstructed timeline looks something like this … buckle up, because this is going to get complicated …
Chael Sonnen called out Wanderlei a while back – and the two were briefly rumored as “TUF” coaches – before it turned out Sonnen had a little something-something he had to take care of first. That left Chris Leben to call out Wanderlei following his win over Yoshihiro Akiyama, only to fall to Brian Stann and then see Stann steal his idea. A bout between Stann and Silva was even fleetingly confirmed, before it seemed like Wanderlei begged off, saying he didn’t want to play the heel against an American Hero. Silva himself then turned around and called out Vitor Belfort, but Belfort ignored that come-on and said he wanted to fight Michael Bisping. (Bisping being the guy you call out if you haven’t already called out Wanderlei Silva, we guess.) OK, deep breath. You with us so far?
This week Leben reiterated his desire to fight Wanderlei and then Wanderlei supporters allegedly launched a Twitter revolution directed at Dana White, urging him to make the fight between the two sluggers. Guess what, though? White ain’t even trying to hear that, see. He wants Wanderlei to fight Belfort, maybe in a big money fight at UFC Rio later this year. But NOW guess who may not want to fight Vitor? That’s right, Wanderlei. Wait, what? An attempt to make sense of it all after the jump …
White stopped short of confirming the fight on Thursday during one of his now semi-regular interviews with Ariel Helwani. Word on the street is that those two are thinking about getting a place together, since they’ve been hanging out so much lately. Anyway, Helwani asked White if the Silva vs. Leben fight was going to become reality, to which Big DW responded thusly:
“No, that’s (just) what Wanderlei wants, that’s not the fight we want for Wanderlei,” White said. “We want Vitor Belfort. Wanderlei vs. Vitor, that’s the fight I want. Wanderlei knows I want that fight and Vitor’s ready to roll.”
“Does Wanderlei not want it?” Helwani asked.
“I don’t know,” White trumpeted, sounding very much like a guy whose company just solidified his position as The King of MMA over the weekend. “Let’s find out.”
“Maybe in Rio?” Helwani asked.
“Run and tweet that, homeboy,” White responded, dating himself a bit there.
Makes sense to us. If the UFC has the chance to put a megafight together for its return to Brazil, it might as well do it. Since Vitor blitzed Silva in just 44 seconds way back at UFC 17.5, we have to assume that’d be a rematch both would take, too. We have no idea why White sort of implies that Silva might not be interested in the fight all of a sudden.
As for Wanderlei vs. Leben? Yeah, that does sound like a fun one, but given that neither guy is going anywhere (both are subject to be fighting well into their golden years), that particular matchup will still be just as fun if the UFC feels like throwing it together somewhere down the road.