The return of former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin was expected at UFC 101 this August, but breaking news about his opponent confirmed today by both MMAJunkie.com and Yahoo! Sports has caught a lot of the MMA world by surprise. While Thiago Silva was rumored to be the opponent for Griffin in Philadelphia, it has been now confirmed this afternoon that Forrest will battle middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva in a bout that will see Silva return to the 205 pound division.
Dana White has very publicly criticized Anderson Silva’s performance at UFC 97 in Montreal, making it clear that he was disappointed with the lack of offense from Silva which led to an underwhelming clash of styles for some viewers. The lack of time between the Montreal show and today’s announcement clearly shows that the UFC wants to quickly put Silva in a position to “redeem” himself in a fight that will almost certainly pose significant challenge. If it is a challenge that the UFC thinks Anderson Silva needs in his next fight, it is almost certain that he will find it in the returning Forrest Griffin.
The potential of a Silva vs. Griffin fight has been talked about for quite some time now. When Anderson Silva moved up to the light heavyweight division last July to battle James Irvin, Forrest Griffin was quick to comment on a potential fight with Silva during an interview with strictlyfighting.com:
As a fan of the sport, this fight is compelling for many reasons. Both potential outcomes of this fight hold significant implications for the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions going into the end of the year. However, that might be looking too far ahead. The fight itself offers a great clash of styles, and if styles do indeed make fights then this should be one for the ages. I find it hard to believe that we’ll see this fight move to the ground quickly, and given the recent comments by Dana White, the UFC has surely set this specific fight up to be a “gunslinger” that they expect to please. The promotion for this fight will be extremely interesting to watch.
This entire Silva/UFC situation has ended up turning into a great opportunity for Forrest Griffin. Griffin is looking for a big comeback victory to begin his quest to recapturing the light heavyweight crown, and this could be one of the greatest comeback victories in history if Griffin is able to get his hand raised in Philly. It was originally expected that Griffin, if successful in his rumored UFC 101 bout with Thiago Silva, would then find himself in the #1 contender spot in his division behind Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.