The Aftermath of UFC 162 – Silva vs. Weidman
UFC 162 will go down as one of the most memorable and epic fight cards in UFC history. In addition to the electric upset of Anderson Silva delivered by new middleweight champion Chris Weidman, we also saw an array of exciting fights and spectacular finishes, as well as a very successful UFC fan expo prior to the fights. But Chris Weidman’s shocking finish of Anderson Silva was easily the highlight of the night and probably of 2013, so with all of the confusion, rumors and opinions flying around, let’s take a look at what we learned from this historic event.
First and foremost, Chris Weidman has to be given his due. He just became the new middleweight champion and defeated Anderson Silva in order to do so. He defeated Anderson Silva. Anderson Silva.
That’s a statement that’s hard to believe even after seeing the footage. Not only did Weidman beat him, but he beat him badly. He knocked him out. That’s never been done before. Weidman smashed Silva’s face in and made his head visibly rebound off the octagon mat. Words can’t express the magnitude of what Weidman accomplished in the Octagon on July 6th. He shocked the world, made history, and won himself a championship all in one night. Weidman is the man right now and deservedly so, he’s going to be the hot topic for quite some time.
With that said, let’s look at some of the popular opinions about what’s going on with Anderson Silva and break down what’s real and what we can ignore:
Anderson Silva beat himself, right? In the minds of many, he lost that fight more than Weidman won it. It was Weidman basically capitalizing on a combination of Silva’s boredom, arrogance, showmanship and simple foolishness. This is partly true. Silva is famous for his showmanship, keeping his hands low and dodging attacks more than blocking them. His instincts and ability to read opponents and avoid damage is otherworldly, and it has not only worked for him in the past, but it has made him look almost superhuman. Unfortunately, the risks of that strategy finally caught up to Silva and it failed him against Weidman, it failed him miserably. The outcome of the fight may have been different had Silva protected himself and minimized the showmanship, but he didn’t. Again, give credit to Weidman. He wasn’t the first guy to stand opposite Silva in the cage and experience the taunting and dodging and weaving of Silva, but he was the first to be able to do something with it.
Silva doesn’t want a rematch…yet. True. Silva said it, Dana White agreed and Silva has earned some time to rest and recuperate. He’s been in more title fights than some guys have fights in their entire careers. Now there’s a lot of talk about how Silva is just not that interested in fighting anymore and has nothing left to prove. If that was truly the case before the fight, then why in the whole wide world would Silva sign a 10 fight contract with the UFC instead of simply retiring? White pointed out that Silva looked very good before the knockout and it was true; Silva either has incredibly rare natural ability or trained like a champion prior to the fight (or both). He clearly still wants to fight, but he might not want an immediate rematch as soon as possible.
Silva is relieved because he had been defending that championship for almost seven years. This may be true, but it could also be a statement made after the fact to justify the loss. Being champion is definitely not easy if you ask the current ones and champions have more promotional responsibilities than other fighters. That’s not to mention they constantly have a target on their back and dangerous contenders are busting their backs to take their spot.
Silva in particular, is also an icon in Brazil and carries an entire country on his back every time he steps into the Octagon. But Silva has been doing this for a long time and he knows how this game is played. If the pressure of being such a dominant champion from a country that worships him was too much, retiring would have made much more sense than what he did. Instead, Silva signed a new and lengthy contract, then agreed to another championship fight against a young and hungry contender, trained for it, then showed up on fight night and mocked said contender, which resulted in the first knockout loss (and worst loss) of Silva’s career. If Silva’s goal was to give up the pressures of being the UFC middleweight champion without retiring, well, that was one way to go about it.
Superfights are off the table. That’s true…for now. If Silva comes back to avenge his defeat, regain his title, and possibly defend it one or two more times in spectacular fashion (that’s a lot to ask of anybody…unless we’re talking about Anderson Silva), a superfight with GSP or Jon Jones could and should happen. Of course a superfight isn’t going to happen immediately, that should be clear as day. Silva just lost.
The other factor to consider is Silva is 37 years old. Dana White pointed out that Silva still looked great and didn’t show signs of aging prior to the KO. But a rematch and another successful title defense or two would take at least another year. Once again, if a superfight is going to happen, the window is closing, closing, closing…
This loss does nothing to diminish Anderson Silva’s legacy. True and False. Let’s keep it 100%. Silva remains the greatest to ever do it. His resume is unmatched – that’s a fact. A terrible KO loss to Weidman doesn’t erase the body of work he put in prior to this fight.
But the sports world, including MMA, tends to be firmly entrenched in the “What have you done for me lately?” mentality. Losing a fight he was favored to win definitely hurts Silva’s legacy. Whether he didn’t take the fight seriously or not, he embarrassed himself and got embarrassed by Weidman, and of course lost his title in the process. How could his performance on Saturday do anything but take away from his extraordinary career? He was supposed to wipe the floor with Chris Weidman and instead we got the exact opposite.
Then you throw in Jon Jones, who is on an absolute tear, and you have a potential challenger who could very well take over the top spot as the greatest of all time. Jones is very young, has a lot of fights left in him and what’s even more amazing is he is still improving. Another kick to the already downed Silva: Jones is already the new #1 ranked P4P fighter thanks to Silva’s loss.
And speaking of his legacy…Anderson Silva just lost his aura of invincibility. Whatever he decides to do, he’s not the infallible, invincible, inhuman perfect fighting machine he was labeled as before the fight. That clip of him getting knocked out will be on every anti-Anderson Silva highlight reel from now until eternity. It’s already burned in the minds of MMA fans and it will be replayed in countless media outlets millions and millions of times.
In the past, Silva displayed his almost demi-god like powers of combat against the likes of Rich Franklin and Forrest Griffin, avoiding hits like he was the hero in a fight scene of some CGI enhanced action movie. He attempted to do the same against Weidman with some early success and then it was end scene. A huge part of Silva’s mystique was lost along with his title that night. If an eventual rematch happens, or even a fight with anyone else for that matter, his opponent will have more confidence now knowing that Silva can not only lose, but be finished in violent fashion. Weidman in particular, will have boatloads of confidence going into a rematch. Knowing he was the first guy to KO Silva, remembering the feeling of smashing his face in and putting the hammer down, that’s something that will stay with him and give him an extra edge.
So what’s the bottom line? Put simply, the aftermath of UFC 162 is this: we haven’t seen the last of Anderson Silva. Before UFC 162, he said there was nothing left for him to prove. There is now.