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UFC 101:

What’s next for Silva?

After destruction of Griffin, UFC middleweight champ has plenty of options

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Alejandro A. Alvarez / Philadelphia Daily News

UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva celebrates his first-round victory over Forrest Griffin at the Wachovia Center on Saturday August 8, 2009.

A Declaration of Dominance

The UFC made its Philadelphia debut Saturday with UFC 101, which saw two headlining fights live up to their billing thanks to a first-round knockout by Anderson Silva and a fourth-round submission by B.J. Penn.

UFC 101: Declaration

BJ Penn clocks opponent Kenny Florian during their main event bout Aug. 8, 2009, at the Wachovia Center. Penn went on to win, retaining his championship belt. Launch slideshow »

PHILADELPHIA — Anderson Silva had already cleaned out the UFC’s middleweight division.

“The Spider’s” first-round destruction of former light heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin during Saturday night’s first-ever UFC event in Pennsylvania likely means Silva is moving up a class and laying claim to another crown.

Then again, the Brazilian’s dream opponent for a long-rumored boxing match, former champ Roy Jones Jr., was sitting just mere feet away scouting Silva during his spectacular show inside the Wachovia Center.

Why not?

Silva played as much the part of legendary boxer Muhammad Ali as he did the world’s top pound-for-pound mixed martial artist Saturday. He chose to bob-and-weave and throw punches rather than rely on his dominant MMA-based skills in his first-round knockout of Griffin.

Of course, UFC president Dana White doesn’t like the matchup and made sure to remind media members afterwards that the fight won’t happen on his watch (Silva still has three remaining fights on his UFC contract).

"I don't know what will happen if Anderson Silva went in to box Roy Jones Jr. I just don't see the point. This is MMA," said White, reiterating his long stance on the subject.

“I don’t mean to show any disrespect to Roy Jones. I respect the sport of boxing. He’s not a champion anymore and these are two different sports.”

But for Silva (25-4), it appears a true challenge is what fuels his greatness.

Lackluster victories over Thales Leites and Patrick Cote, and criticism from MMA fans, seemed to motivate Silva to another level in his dismantling of Griffin.

At times it appeared the 34-year-old Silva was just toying with the popular Las Vegas-based fighter, dropping his hands to his waist and weaving his head one way and then another as Griffin punched into the air.

Silva pumped his hands to pump up the same crowd that booed him during his walk to the Octagon. He even offered Griffin a helping hand after one of the three knockdowns he delivered.

“Styles make fights," Silva said through his manager/translator Ed Soares.

“Forrest stood there and tried to exchange. It just kind of comes with the business. But Forrest should definitely be respected and be congratulated, because he came well-prepared and he came to fight."

So who’s got next?

During the post-fight media conference White said Dan Henderson likely would get the next nod at 185 pounds.

“Hendo,” who was in Philadelphia, told Fox Sports’ Mike Straka that he had indeed been told he would be getting a rematch with Silva.

“They’ve already announced I’m fighting him next,” said Henderson, who lost to Silva via second-round submission at UFC 82 in March 2008. “I’m gonna beat him up.”

That statement could have two false claims: 1) that Henderson would actually beat up the man who owns a UFC record 10 straight wins; 2) that he’ll even be next in line to fight Silva.

Hours after the interview with Henderson, Yahoo! Sports’ Dan Wetzel reported that Silva and Soares made White a proposal of giving up the 185-pound belt to jump up to fight in the 205-pound class.

“I like that. We can do that,” White told Wetzel.

Arguably the most stacked UFC division, Silva could have his pick of top-notch opponents in Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Rashad Evans, Maurico “Shogun” Rua, maybe UFC’s newest addition Tito Ortiz or even possibly good friend and undefeated champ Lyoto Machida.

Silva quickly scoured at the reporter who brought that scenario up.

“Lyoto is my friend, he is my brother and there is no way that fight will ever happen,” Silva said.

A smiling White disagreed, saying he could get the deal done.

“It has nothing to do with friendship. It’s about who’s the best. It’s about competing against somebody else, no different than a basketball game or a football game,” White said.

“If Anderson gets to that point where he starts taking out 205-pounders, I’ll make that fight. I promise you, I’ll make that fight.”

There’s a possible grudge match out there with former friend and fan favorite Wanderlei Silva.

Or maybe even the possibility of the previously hyped superfight with welterweight champ George St. Pierre.

But the smaller Canadian has said he would need a least a year to put on enough weight to go against Silva, and with Silva talking about moving up a division, this dream match seems less likely now.

“I want to fight against the best. Whoever the best is at the time, that's who I want to fight," Silva told Joe Rogan while waving to the crowd in the Octagon after his big win.

White already knows the answer to that one — it’s Silva.

“He's the most talented fighter in the world. He's pound-for-pound the best in the world," White said.

"He proved tonight not only that he's that, but he can dominate in two different weight divisions."

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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