Commentary

Silva won't relinquish middleweight title

Updated: August 12, 2009, 12:33 AM ET
By Franklin McNeil | Special to ESPN.com

UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva told ESPN.com today that he is not relinquishing his title to fight exclusively at light heavyweight. Silva's manager, Ed Soares, also denies ever making such an offer to UFC president Dana White.

Silva and Soares spoke to ESPN.com after reading a Yahoo! Sports report in which Soares allegedly tells White that the champ would give up his 185-pound title and fight at 205 pounds. The offer apparently came after Silva's first-round knockout Saturday night of former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 101.

According to the Yahoo! Sports report, Soares is seen with his arm around White's shoulder, leaning in and making the proposal. The alleged offer puts a big smile on White's face.

White then says: "I can do that. I like that. We can do that."

There is one problem, according to Soares, the conversation between him and White never happened. After reading the story, Soares could barely contain his anger. Soares said his attorney plans to speak to Yahoo! Sports about the matter.

"That is totally false; I never said that to Dana," Soares told ESPN.com. "I never had my arm around Dana saying something like that, [not] whatsoever.

"The only time I recall Dana saying what was said in the Yahoo! story -- 'I like that. We can make that happen, I like that' -- was when Anderson's assistant came up to Dana and said something to him. But I don't even know what he said to Dana."

A UFC spokesperson confirmed that White and Soares did not have a conversation agreeing that Silva would permanently move up to light heavyweight.

Soares, who manages both Silva and UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, has stated repeatedly the two will never fight each other. Silva reiterated that message to ESPN.com today.

"The way I feel is that the 205 belt is Lyoto Machida's," said Silva, whose words were translated by Soares. "That's my teammate, my brother, my friend; I'm not going to fight Lyoto Machida. So between me and Lyoto, we are going to defend both of those belts.

"I'm not going to fight Lyoto. It's not about the money. We're brothers, we are not going to fight. That's how we feel."

Though Silva does not intend to fight Machida or give up his middleweight belt, he still plans to compete at 185 and 205 pounds. Silva and Soares believe competing in two weight classes will provide opportunities for stiffer challenges.

"Like we've said before, Anderson wants to be in the biggest fights possible, whether it's at 205 or 185 [pounds]," Soares said. "He owns the belt at 185 and he is going to keep defending that belt."

When Silva plans to defend the 185-pound belt next remains a mystery. During the UFC 101 postfight news conference, White stated that former Pride welterweight titleholder Dan Henderson would likely get the next shot at Silva.

Soares isn't happy about the possibility of Silva taking on Henderson next. He would prefer Silva step in the Octagon against another 205-pound fighter instead.

"I don't think there is a valid [middleweight] contender yet," Soares said. "To create a valid 185-pound contender, I think, Dan Henderson should fight the winner of Demian Maia and Nate Marquardt.

"I don't believe Dan Henderson deserves the title shot right now. The reason I don't is because a year and a half ago Anderson submitted him in the second round.

"If anything, Nate Marquardt deserves a title shot before [Henderson]. I also think Demian Maia is in the running for [a title shot], too. … We'd like to do another fight at 205 … or a catchweight of some sort."

Franklin McNeil is an analyst on ESPN.com's "MMA Live."