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Silva out? Put Belfort and Sonnen back in

Despite being bludgeoned in the head and body nearly 300 times by Chael Sonnen -- a fact that speaks to Sonnen's work ethic, if not exactly his power -- it may turn out that Anderson Silva's pending layoff could stem not from an aching brain but from the bruised/cracked rib he suffered in training: Ramon Lemos, Silva's jiu-jitsu coach, told Fighters Only Magazine that Silva may not be prepared to fight again until February or March of next year.

While biannual fight schedules are nothing new in the UFC, and injuries or illness can hobble fighters for even a year or more, it seems counterproductive to arrest the melodrama that started on Saturday. There's momentum here, if the UFC chooses to activate it.

While it was a long and grueling fight, Sonnen came out of it largely unmarked. Like his coach Matt Lindland, Sonnen is a workhorse who doesn't complain about an active schedule. He'd be ready to go in November. And, conveniently, so would Vitor Belfort.

Belfort, originally scheduled to fight Silva in April before injury took him out, hasn't fought since September 2009. He's just sitting there, packed in ice, waiting to be unfurled for when the UFC decides it would be convenient to use his shaky status as a top contender. Is he really going to sit out for upward of 18 months? Why not lend some legitimacy to his status -- he's had not one middleweight fight in the UFC -- by matching him against Sonnen?

There's an argument against, obviously: With Silva having slaughtered most of that division, it makes more financial sense to keep both Belfort and Sonnen circling rather than guarantee one gets eliminated. I get it. But I also get that athletes have a very small window of opportunity to compete, and shelving them because of a champion's injury displays a fairly gross ignorance of that fact. Matching them up against anyone else is disingenuous: they're the No. 1 and No. 2 contenders in the promotion. Who else could Belfort fight that would possibly aid his standing more than Sonnen?

In terms of structure, the UFC is nearly flawless. My one complaint remains its willingness to arrest divisions based on a single champion's availability. Silva is hurt, and it happens. But the show has got to go on.