The Spider’s voice has been heard, but UFC legend Anderson Silva will not be getting his desired interim title fight. That’s according to UFC President Dana White, who spoke to TMZ about the issue. Silva had torn a strip off the UFC and demanded an interim middleweight title fight against Yoel Romero earlier this week on Ariel Helwani’s The MMA Hour.
For his part, Romero was on board with the title fight idea. White, however, is not.
It’s a move that could send Silva into retirement. The Brazilian threatened to walk away from the sport if the title fight failed to materialize. Perhaps White is calling the Spider’s bluff. If so, it’s a risky move, given the current lack of superstars active in the UFC.
However, White tells TMZ that it’s just not happening — and maybe Silva should retire anyway. “Every time for the last how many years, dealing with Anderson is always interesting” White told the tabloid. “Obviously he wants an interim title, obviously we’re not going to do an interim title.”
What about that threat of retirement? Dana White sees it as a negotiating ploy. “He’s definitely coming out publicly and trying to [use leverage].” White said. What if he actually walks away though? “You know my philosophy [on retirement]. If you ever say the R word, you should probably do it anyway. If you’re ever considering retirement, you should probably do it.”
Just why the UFC won’t make the bout, however, gets a little confusing. According to White, “we will not do an interim title.” He explained further, saying “It won’t happen. [Middleweight champion Michael] Bisping is ready, willing, and able to fight the actual number one contender who is Yoel Romero. Anderson Silva is ranked number seven right now.” Which would make perfect sense, expect the UFC hasn’t been trying to make the Romero fight. Instead, they’ve been working on Bisping vs. Georges St. Pierre. A fight which may not happen until after October at this point.
To White, the situation isn’t of the UFC’s making. Silva was scheduled to face Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 212 in Rio next month. Gastelum, however, tested positive for marijuana, and subsequently was pulled from the fight. The UFC has tried to book Silva with another partner — they’re just not willing to make it for interim gold.
It’s quite the gamble. Should Silva actually walk away, they lose yet another star when the cupboards are already bare. They also miss out on an easy sell, as Silva’s appearance on The MMA Hour did an excellent job setting up the fight with Romero.
While Silva is in fact outside the top five, his status as a former champ, and the fact that he nearly finished the current champion last year, do give his claim to an interim shot some merit. Especially in a promotion that has routinely ignored rankings in favor of money fights.