Daniel Cormier lost one living-legend opponent but gained another in the process.
Anderson Silva stepped in less than a day from the UFC 200 weigh-in to agree to fight the UFC light heavyweight champion on Saturday night. The pair scrap in a three-round, non-title affair at the 205-pound limit.
“I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my UFC career, and no one’s been able to beat everything that I’ve done,” Silva explained at UFC.com. “So I really feel like I’m a blessed guy. I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to do what I’ve done. I’m just very happy to be able to come in and face a guy like Daniel Cormier.”
Prior to the emergence of Jon Jones and his own falls, many fans considered Silva the greatest in the short history of the sport. The middleweight reigned longer than any other champion in UFC history, and boasts wins over Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, and Dan Henderson. He adds star-power to a card not lacking it. Brock Lesnar-Mark Hunt matchup for the main attraction if not the main event at UFC 200, with Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar fighting for an interim 145-pound title and Miesha Tate and Amanda Nunes battling for the 135-pound women’s title in the main event.
Cormier had hoped to avenge his loss to Jon Jones, who beat him decisively in a nevertheless competitive bout that saw Bones elevate his game after his opponent enjoyed a superb round two. But Cormier’s bitter rival left him heartbroken again. Jones allegedly tested positive for two banned substances. He faces a possible two-year suspension and Cormier faced the possibility earlier this week of losing lucrative pay-per-view bonuses because of the actions of his opponent. Though Cormier looks to pound Silva’s face into hamburger, he does so knowing that his opponent just saved his bacon—or at least his bank account.
Silva fights at light heavyweight not for the first time, owning impressive wins over Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonner in the division. But Silva started his career as a welterweight and Cormier began his as a heavyweight. Though he owns height and reach advantages over Cormier, Silva faces a thicker, much more powerful bowling ball of a man at UFC 200. He competes as not a particularly massive middleweight and Cormier fights as a light heavyweight with the emphasis on heavy. Worse still, Cormier’s strength—wrestling—works as Silva’s kryptonite. At 41, four years from a win, less than two months from gall bladder surgery, and fighting on two-days notice, Silva enters the octagon as a significant underdog.