Since emerging in the Ultimate Fighting Championship two years ago, Anderson Silva has clearly proven his position as the No. 1 middleweight fighter in the world. Many have also bandied about the label of best pound-for-pound fighter in the same breath as the UFC middleweight champion.
Now he's out to prove it. And for the first time in the promotion's history, UFC president Dana White is giving his blessing to allow one of his champions to move among divisions in an attempt to hold two belts in two classes.
"(Ricardo Almeida) and Patrick Cote are going to fight on Saturday night and see who's next in line for Anderson Silva's 185-pound title," said White at Thursday's pre-fight press conference in anticipation of Saturday's UFC 86 card in Las Vegas.
"Anderson Silva, being the monster that he is, you all know is going to move up to 205 on July 19. He's going to fight at 205. If everything goes well, he wants to move back to 185 and fight Sept. 6 in Atlanta, probably against Yushin Okami, then he wants to fight again two months later," he continued.
That's not where the blueprint ends. White later spoke to MMAWeekly.com, saying that not only are Silva's next couple of middleweight fights lined out, but he also has White's confidence in making a go at both retaining the middleweight belt and hunting down light heavyweight gold.
"When I talk about real fighter, this is the kind of guy I'm talking about. This guy sat down in a meeting with us, literally, two months ago and said you're not fighting me enough, I want to fight more," explained White. "And he wants to keep proving himself. He's one of these guys that said my window is this big and I want to get everything in before this window closes.
"He wants to fight (July) 19. He wants to fight again Sept. 6 (at UFC 88), back down to 185 (pounds); he wants to defend his title, then again two months later. Anderson Silva might fight three or four more times this year. He might fight three or four more times this year and it's almost August!"
The only catch thus far is Silva has to get by James Irvin at the UFC Fight Night on July 19. He doesn't have to win, at least to defend his middleweight belt, but he does have to come out unscathed.
"He just has to be healthy," said White about being ready for a Sept. 6 defense. "I assume if he didn't win, he's probably not going to come out healthy unless it's a quick submission or something." And he added an emphatic "yeah" when asked if Silva's defense in Atlanta would be against No. 6 ranked Yushin Okami.
The idea then is to return to the Octagon a couple of months later, assuming he defeats Okami, and then face the UFC 86 winner between Ricardo Almeida and Patrick Cote said White.
"Yeah. Then he'll bounce back up to 205. He wants to fight 205 again, then go back to 185. He wants to keep sticking his foot in the 205 division to feel it out. Because what he's testing is, I think he wants both belts," said White.
"He wants to hold both the 185 and the 205 pound belt and he wants to defend them both. Normally I won't let guys do stuff like that because it's just... stupid. I'll let Anderson Silva do it."