Monday, July 8, 2013

Looking for a Fight @ UFC 162: The Aftermath

This isn't a dream. Chris Weidman is the UFC Champ. (espn.com)
If Helen of Troy had the face that launched a thousand ships, then the title fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman on Saturday night at the MGM Grand is the fight the launched a million blog comments.

In one of the most surreal fights in the UFC, the pound-for-pound champion was flattened by 9-0 #1 contender Weidman in the early 2nd round. Like most things though, it's not the final outcome, but how the final outcome happened that left fight fans everywhere speechless. People have read, seen, heard, or absorbed what happened Saturday night, but in short Silva goofed around with a very dangerous opponent and for the first time in his UFC career paid for it.

As I was watching the fight, after Silva got back to his feet after an early takedown and submission attempt by Weidman the Maia/Griffin/Bonnar shenanigans began. This time though, Silva must have attended the Actor's Studio because his motions and antics were even more pronounced and foolish. So seeing him horizontal with the floor of the Octagon was jarring enough, once he had a chance to explain himself in the ring to Joe Rogan, that's when things really went crazy.

Silva was gracious in defeat, but he also mentioned not wanting a rematch. He wanted to get back to Brazil with his family. Weidman was the champion and he deserved respect. For a man that had rarely known defeat, a man who many consider the best fighter on the planet to seem so ... relieved at losing his title this led to a whole new world of questions.

Was the pressure getting to him? Was the fight fixed? Was Silva too confident? Did Silva underestimate Weidman? What the hell just happened?

I'm not conspiracy theorist (although I do love hearing about them) so assuming any sort of fight fixing is a bridge too far for me. What makes Silva's in-ring decisions so hard to grasp is that the man himself is hard to grasp. Dana White has said on multiple occassions that Silva can act erratic and odd. "He's like a great artist," White would say when referencing his handling of Silva. Well, you know what happens to great artists? They go fucking nuts sometimes.

They chop their ear off, they break up a gigantic band in their prime, they disappear, they kill themselves, and on and on. Look, being a genius is all kinds of fun until you have to deal with what goes on inside a genius' brain. It's not all clarity and happiness there. There's a constant search for more, being driven and focused so much that all you want or need is the next new challenge.

Ultimately, after several days to run through a bunch of scenarios, I think Anderson Silva just lost his path. By that I mean, he's worked so hard for so long and been so great, he didn't care anymore about winning. He wanted to do things on his own terms. And you know what, doing things on his own terms has worked out pretty darn well for him so far. He was going to put on a show. He was going to showcase his talents and  win and move on. The path he was going down was, frankly, boring to him. In the eventuality of the outcome and in the challenges it presented.

His intent was to win and keep moving, but it wasn't for his legacy or to defend the belt again, it was just a means to an end. You can't tell me that a guy concerned with his legacy and how history would remember him would fight a person that way. You think Georges St-Pierre is going out there and crazy legging it?

Silva has been so undeniably brilliant in the UFC that with the mentality he has to have to be a fighter, he felt like he could not be harmed. Not by Chris Weidman, not by a grizzly bear.

What makes - let me say that again, what MAKES - Silva the best fighter on the planet is that he did things his way. He finished fights, he displayed his craft, and he was able to execute that like no one else.

The ending of the fight left more questions than answers. It didn't discredit Silva (aside from the showboating) and it didn't undo what Weidman accomplished (as he put it, Silva has done what he did in the ring to a lot of other fighters and they couldn't finish him). Hopefully what it does do is give Silva a chance to refocus himself. To remember what losing feels like. What being mortal feels like. Maybe when Silva is at home in Brazil three weeks from now he'll realize that his "boredom" and taking the UFC for granted has cost him a small piece of his legacy that even a dominant rematch win won't get back. He's lost the opportunity to close to book on any GOAT for this lifetime at least.

This isn't boxing. In MMA everyone loses. But the manner and style in which Silva seemingly threw everything away leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth. If he was to lose to Weidman or Jon Jones or GSP, fans who respect and revere him want to see him go out fighting, not trying to be Neo.

It'd be insane, but not impossible that Jones and GSP both lose their next two fights and all of a sudden we're redoing this whole conversation and Jose Aldo is the best fighter on the planet. But I'd say the odds of GSP losing while breakdancing or Jones losing reciting a scene from MacBeth aren't likely. Should they lose, they'll lose fighting. And while Silva was doing what he wanted, he was doing his best to win, it wasn't what he needed to do. In the fight game, no matter who you are, there's a difference.

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