Of course we all know Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva early in the second round at UFC 162 to become the first new UFC middleweight champ since Silva took the division from Rich Franklin himself, back in 2006 at UFC 64.
Over 100 UFC’s later, Silva’s strategy involving toying with his opponent, finally lead to his first loss after a dominant 16 fight run on the world’s biggest mixed martial arts stage.
Herb Dean must’ve felt the earth shake when he waved off Weidman, of whom immediately began his victory march around the cage’s perimeter. Or maybe it was Silva’s arms, as the now former champion lay sprawled out on the mat below him, with his arms wrapped around Dean’s leg in a state of confusion as his muscle memory screamed for an attempt to pull guard.
What will drive pay-per-views for the rematch, and subsequently create the biggest discussion in the sport’s 20 year history, will be dictated by how both men react from that moment when the meet next inside the cage. Hardcore fans of the sport talk about how Silva will have learned from that moment. What people don’t seem to grasp is that Weidman will have learned from it as well.
I know this talk sounds like some serious Anderson Silva bashing so far. Trust me; the sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is this type of article was always going to happen, and always feel wrong to read, and especially write.
Silva looked capable in his fight with Weidman, except for every time both men got within striking distance. Sure Silva landed leg strikes at will in the first round and with what time he spent on his feet in the second. When he wasn’t dancing around and moving backwards, he was taking strikes to the head, albeit not the most direct blows, but still they were connecting on some level.
One positive aspect of the fight in Silva’s favor was his ability to stuff Weidman’s takedowns in the second round. In the first he was taken down and dominated, but with Silva’s fight strategy in mind, calculating the winner before the end is always a difficult beast to assess.
His style is unique and difficult to gauge in its effectiveness, or subsequent lack thereof. But in this case, it’s more than fair to say Silva was simply struggling to implement his strategy, and Weidman wasn’t. But let’s face it, that strategy has worked so well for Silva in the past.
If anyone thinks Silva will be ready next time, so will Weidman. He has stated over and over again that his knockout of Silva was not a fluke. He also believes that to defeat Silva, he knew it would take a rematch to adequately kill his legend, and prove to the world it was more than luck the first time.
If he was taking the center of the cage in their first match, he will definitely be adding confidence to his movement. Expect Weidman to move forward and open up a bit in the striking department. He will be throwing more leather and worrying even less about his opponent’s strategy.
I would love to see Anderson Silva storm back though, prove his doubtful fans wrong, and retake the title and the division he has dominated for so long. Most of us just don’t want to see the end of an era. It not only dates Silva, but us as well.
The passing of the guard will always happen, but when it does, it’s hard to accept. All MMA fans are still human, and humans can’t avoid the fundamental flaw in our nature to succumb to denial from time to time.
Anyone who says Anderson Silva was toying with Chris Weidman and would’ve beaten the number one contender if he had taken the fight seriously is simply that; living in a clear and painful state of denial.
The reason it is painful is because it will only make the experience worse when Silva gets knocked out again, by the same man who knocked him out the first time. That’s at least most likely what happens when a fighter knocks out another fighter, he just does it again. Of course exceptions exist, so therein lies the conflict, and a chance for Silva’s redemption.