In the wake of his thunderous knockout loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, some folks around the MMA blogosphere have been talking up Wanderlei Silva’s need to drop down to the middleweight class. Sam Caplan of Five Ounces of Pain outlines the case:
“…Forget about considering the move, it’s time to just go ahead and make it. Silva is not what he once was and can no longer swim with the sharks in the UFC’s stacked light heavyweight division. He needs to move down in weight in an attempt to reinvent himself in a division that isn’t anywhere near as deep as 205 and contains fewer power punchers.”
I will agree that Silva has been looking less and less like his former self these past two years, but declaring that a move to middleweight would solve The Axe Murderer’s problems is a weak argument at best. The unfortunate reality is that if in fact Wanderlei’s game is suffering that heavily, a move to middleweight will not turn him back into the world beater who dominated the Pride circuit.
Does anyone really think that there aren’t guys at middleweight who could put Silva down just as badly as Jackson did? Silva’s devastating KO losses aren’t merely due to light-heavyweights packing more of a punch, but also because of the glaring fact that Silva has always thrown his hands in kind of a wild, “hope I connect because if not I’m wide open” sort of way. That’s his style and I doubt it will change any time soon.
Furthermore, without turning this into a Men’s Fitness piece, I can’t say that Silva’s 5’11’’ frame seems all that well suited for a 20lb drop. The difference between 205lbs and 185lbs is massive, and the light-heavyweight Silva looks damn near picture perfect. Silva cuts a bit of weight to make 205lbs and probably walks around at least 10-15lbs heavier when not in training. There are also plenty of fighters who have cut to a smaller class and done well after the move. But those fighters were not nearly as seasoned and battered as Silva, who at 32 has seen more wars than a five star general.
Of course I’m not going to act as if I wouldn’t be curious to see how Silva fared at middleweight should he opt to go that route, because there are obviously some very intriguing match ups there. But if the best in the light-heavyweight division can handle Silva, then I am inclined to believe that the best in the understandably scarce middleweight division could handle him as well. If Silva indeed wishes to keep fighting, I see no reason for him to have to finish out his days as a depleted middleweight as opposed to a healthy light-heavyweight.