Last night UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva lost his title to relative new comer Chris Weidman. It was a shock to the MMA world.
In the weeks prior to the fight, analysts of all sorts had touted the prowess of the challenger. They were calling him the most dangerous man Anderson Silva would have to face. As a seven time All-American wrestling champion, his style was deemed perfect to defeat Silva.
The only other fighter that had given Silva any trouble had been Chael Sonnen, also a wrestler. And Weidman apparently had skills that surpassed Sonnen’s in every way. I say apparently because even though Weidman knocked Silva out on the second round and won the fight in decisive fashion, those skills were never really put to the test.
Silva had amassed an incredible reputation as the most complete mixed martial artist of our era. He is considered by fighters and experts alike as the best pound for pound fighter in the UFC and that’s where the best fighters do their thing.
Silva had defended his title successfully ten previous times and was able to handle even top tear opponents with almost Jedi-like control. His striking ability is nothing short of mesmerizing. He’s able to hit with precision and power from all sorts of impossible angles.
In contrast, Weidman was pretty much an unknown, even to dedicated fans such as myself. I had never heard of him until the ad campaign for the fight started to bombard my television set.
The campaign hinged on pumping up the image of Weidman as a dangerous fighter. It was so much so that I started to think that if this guy was so dangerous why did everybody have to remind me of it?
I thought the fight pretty much had a foregone conclusion. Obviously I was wrong. But I guess a better question is: Was everybody else right?
First we have to look a little bit at Anderson’s past scuffles with the UFC and its president Dana White.
When Anderson defended his title against Damian Maia in UFC 112, after domination the first round he pretty much stopped fighting and started goofing around. He taunted Maia and kept him at bay when he could have easily ended the fight any time he wanted. This went on for five rounds.
When it was over White was furious. He said it was his most embarrassing moment as president of the UFC. Of course he was angry, he’s in the business of selling the spectacle of fighting and a fighter not wanting to fight doesn’t really do it.
White left the arena and refused to put the belt on Silva, something he does on every championship fight.
In the documentary Like Water Silva talks about the events and says he did what he went there to do. “Everybody wants a brawl,” he tells his sparring partner Lyoto Machida, “but if you get into a brawl every fight and you lose, you can be cut [from the UFC].”
I have to say that back then I found myself on the side of Silva. Now, I’m not so sure.
Last night’s card was actually pretty good. The preliminary bouts were excellent and well contested. Once we got to the main card they got better.
Cub Swanson scored a knockout win over Dennis Siver in a hell of a match. Swanson even looked like he was going to go down hard after losing the first round to what seemed to be a larger and stronger man. But Siver ran out of steam and Swanson somehow found a way through his defenses, finally putting him down on the third.
It was a classic struggle of brawn versus brain and a fine display of martial skill.
Frankie Edgar had a similar fight and won in a unanimous decision. Edgar seemed outmatched in his fight against the young Charles Oliveira. But through superior technique and his now characteristic champion’s heart, Edgar was able to neutralize his opponent’s superior reach and strength and score an impressive victory.
But all this good stuff stopped when the main event got under way.
Silva and Weidman squared off. Weidman went in for the takedown, as was expected, and got it. He kept at it through the first half of the first round until both fighters got to their feet again.
Then Silva managed to connect with some vicious kicks to the thigh and put a stop to Weidman’s forward progress. He lured Weidman into a sporadic striking match which is what Silva does so well. What’s even odder is that Weidman complied and seemed hypnotized by Silva. It was like watching one of those videos of a mongoose fighting a king cobra.
I remember thinking, well that’s it. Say good night kid. You certainly don’t want to get into a striking match with Anderson Silva.
And that’s exactly when the bizarre behavior by the champion high jacked this fight. Anderson started to taunt his opponent and clown around. This is not uncommon for him. It’s a mind game. He’s usually able to capitalize on the situation.
But this time, from the beginning, I could tell his movements weren’t as sharp, some of them even sloppy.
Silva continued to drop his hands until Weidman nailed him with a left hook that sent him stumbling to the canvas. Weidman went after him and connected a few more for good measure until the referee stopped the fight and Anderson looked like he didn’t know if he was lying on the surface of the Moon.
The fight was a terrible anticlimactic ending to a terrific night of mixed martial arts. Not because Anderson Silva was defeated but simply because he looked like he didn’t even care enough to try.
In his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan – Silva said that Chris was the champion now and that he was the best. He also said that he had been working really hard and was tired.
It was an all around disappointing performance. It made me think Silva might be going a little crazy. He obviously didn’t want the pressure of holding the title any longer so he found a way to get rid of it. It’s a shame.
The whole thing left me wondering what had happened to a great fighter like Anderson Silva to make him behave in such fashion. He has all the talent in the world and sometimes just refuses to use it. He even comes off as superior to the whole thing. I really don’t get it.
I can understand if you’re tired of fighting and the circus the MMA world has become. That’s fine. I get that. Then don’t fight. Nobody’s forcing you to.
But don’t invite me to the party, wait till I get there, and then cancel because you’re not feeling well. That doesn’t make for a very happy fan.