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SportsMixed Martial Arts

What if Anderson Silva retires?

LeBron James and Anderson Silva in attendance for

LeBron James and Anderson Silva in attendance for UFC 148 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Silva defended his title with a second-round TKO of Chael Sonnen. (July 7, 2012) Credit: Getty

Let's hope Anderson Silva doesn't retire any time soon. Sure, we want to watch the UFC middleweight champion and the greatest mixed martial artist ever continue to meet and greet his challengers with front leg kicks and precision strikes.

But here's another reason a handful of 185-pounders out there should want Silva, 37, to stick around: validity.

If Silva were to retire, he would bring to an end one of the most impressive streaks his sport has known: 16-0 in the UFC, 11 straight wins in title fights and 10 consecutive championship defenses -- all company records.

The next champion would have to live in that shadow for a long time if that fighter won the belt in some sort of tournament or series of eliminator bouts rather than by beating Silva.

It would be Union Kane in "Rocky V" all over again.

Winning the belt by not defeating Silva would be worse than winning an interim title. At least with an interim belt, there is still the notion that it's a placeholder until the actual champion returns from his injury or suspension or leave of absence or whatever.

You think social media, blogs and the Internet are just a bunch of mindless babble now, just wait until you see the blog posts, tweets and anonymous comments when two non-champions enter the octagon and one emerges with the middleweight belt. The advice here in that case is just read the newspaper or watch a movie or pick up the phone and make a call to an old friend.

Men such as Michael Bisping, Chris Weidman, Alan Belcher and Tim Boetsch are all "in the mix" as the phrase goes. UFC president Dana White has said a few fights need to happen still to determine the next challenger, but if Silva were to want to fight in the next two or three months, Weidman would get that shot.

Silva hasn't made any decisions about what he wants to do with his career. But his popularity has never been higher, his pay-per-view draw never greater and his marketability never so lucrative. Granted, some of that has to do with Chael Sonnen coming close to beating Silva two years ago and their rematch earlier this month.

It is easy to sit here and say Silva should fight again, the same way we all said Barry Sanders should have kept playing football instead of retiring in 1998 at age 30 after his fifth straight 1,491-yard or better season of his career.

Silva has been at times a polarizing fighter in the cage. He shares the blame for some of those (Demian Maia) and not others (Thales Leites). But here's one thing you can definitely say about Silva in the octagon: he has set a precedent that is unmatchable by winning a vacant title.
 

New York Sports