LAS VEGAS – Anderson Silva looked like a man who had gone years without a loss in the UFC. He debuted with a knockout of Chris Leben back in 2006 and has decimated each and every one of his opponents since then with a unique flair.
Tonight, Silva made the 11th defense of his UFC Middleweight title, which he lifted from Rich Franklin at UFC 64, almost 7 years removed. Up to this point, Silva was considered the Pound-for-Pound best in Mixed Martial Arts regardless of weight class, and had dominated the sport for an entire decade, remaining not only undefeated but unchallenged as well. His opponent, Chris Weidman, was determined to put an end to an era.
It took Weidman just a little over a round to make headlines.
The fight started with Weidman taking Silva effortlessly to the ground as he tried to submit the Brazilian with a knee bar. But the crafty Silva, who has historically been hard to submit, at least in the UFC, was able to scramble back up on his feet.
Once the two fighters were back standing, Silva began to toy with his opponent, standing square in front of Weidman with his hands down, tapping his chin, inviting the All-American to throw punches. Everytime Silva got hit, he shook his head with a grin and invited his opponent to attack again.
The showboating continued for the better part of the 1st round, with Silva throwing a punch here and there whilst landing a few slapping leg kicks. It seemed the mental edge was heavily in Silva’s favor, and a confused Chris Weidman looked on with tentativeness in his strikes.
Weidman, who many experts expected to take the fight to the ground and win it, was fighting Silva’s fight and was trading punches with the most dynamic striker the sport had ever seen.
It was a big mistake, but not for Weidman.
Right out of the 2nd round, the two combatants went straight at each other with Silva continuing to play games with Weidman, often lowering his guard in an attempt to slip punches “Matrix” style. In a sequence that will be talked about for years to come, Silva took a vicious left hook from Weidman that had his eyes rolling to the back of his head.
Silva was out before he hit the ground.
Weidman then finished him off with a couple of hammer fists as referee Herb Dean waved off the fight. Weidman did what he said he was going to do, and that was to emerge as the victor and the new UFC Middleweight champion.
“You don’t play games in the Octagon, not even if you’re Anderson Silva,” said commentator Joe Rogan who was calling the fight from cage-side. “Unbelievable.”
“Silva didn’t respect Weidman’s punching power, and Weidman cleaned his clock,” added Rogan.
“This should serve as a lesson to all aspiring Mixed Martial Artists, no one should stand with his feet square in front of an opponent with his chin up in the air and his hands down, not even if you’re the best fighter in the world.
“He (Silva) didn’t respect his opponent, and he paid for it with his consciousness. Chris Weidman just knocked Anderson Silva out cold.”
Though Weidman deserves all the adulation resulting from this win, the victory was made possible only by Silva’s own carelessness. Rogan said Silva must feel like a huge clown right now, making a costly mistake that handed him his first loss in the UFC.
“I felt destined for this, but still it feels a little far-fetched,” gasped a triumphant Chris Weidman in his post-fight interview inside the cage.”
“All respect to Anderson Silva, I would love to do a rematch, if that’s what he wants to do,” said Weidman. “He was an idol of mine. I didn’t like to say it during camp but I looked up to him for a long time.”
Silva, in his post-fight interview, was graceful in defeat.
“I worked hard for this fight. I respect my fans in the UFC. I respect USA because my big dream is working. I changed my life. I changed the life of my family. I live now in the United States,” said Silva, referring to him providing a better means of living for his family away from the rough streets of Brazil.
“Chris Weidman tonight is the best, he’s the new champion,” added Silva. “Chris has my respect because Chris is the best now.”
When asked if he desired a rematch with Weidman, Silva gave a shocking response.
“No. Chris is the champion now. Chris is the best. That’s it. I’ve finished my work, I won’t fight anymore for the belt,” exulted a defeated Silva.
“I’ll change my life now because I’ve worked hard for a long time and I’m tired. I’ll relax now and go back to my family. Chris is the new champion.”
Despite the negative response to an immediate rematch, Silva said he would continue to fight on, with 10 fights remaining in his current UFC contract. Yet to say that he would not compete at championship level is baffling.
At the post-fight presser, Dana White all but guaranteed Silva would want nothing more than a rematch with Chris Weidman.
“Anderson Silva hasn’t lost for a long time, and he has to deal with that now,” said White, CEO of the UFC. “I guarantee you, after he has a few days to let it sink in, there’s nothing he wants more than a rematch with Chris Weidman.”
Regardless, if this is truly the end of an era, then fans should be grateful to have witnessed one of the greatest displays of offensive firepower from the man they call “The Spider.”
For 7 years he gave MMA fans highlight reel after highlight reel in obliterating the best the sport had to offer.
Tonight just wasn’t his night. Silva looked tired and at times bored. The fire just wasn’t there.
Congratulations to the new UFC Middleweight champion, Chris “The All-American” Weidman. – Rappler.com
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