It took just days for Anderson Silva to change his mind. His legacy as a champion was not over. His immediate rejection of a rematch would not stick. He wanted a sequel with Chris Weidman, and there was no reason to wait.
So on Saturday, exactly one week after "the Spider" got caught in Weidman's web, the Brazilian legend signed a bout agreement for UFC 168 on Dec. 28. He is favored to win the rematch, at least according to oddsmakers, but most think he will need to fight more conservatively, to tone down his antics of bobbing, weaving and taunting. After all, it was in the immediate seconds after pretending he had been wobbled when Weidman stepped in and landed the game-changer.
But Silva? He doesn't want to hear any talk that he's gone too far.
"If Muhammad Ali came up saying I wasn’t humble, then I’d think if I was humble or not," he said in a Sunday interview on Brazil's Globo TV. "There was no lack of respect. I respect everybody. All the provocation, hands down... It should continue, it’s part of the show"
Still, he acknowledges that he made mistakes.
His longtime coach Cesario Bezerra, speaking in a separate interview with Globo, alluded to issues with focus that dated back to his time in training camp.
"He regrets it, lost his focus," Bezerra said. "He apologized, but it’s done. The important [thing] is that he has a chance to do it all over again. We lost three months. Anderson is complicated, there are too many things around him. We recently had a problem in the gym and I told him: ‘Anderson, your job is with the hands, legs. Don’t listen to those people, you’re not a Hollywood star. Don’t forget where you come from, things you’ve been through. You’re the UFC champion. You’re the star inside there, but here you need to be a simple man. That good and humble man. I don’t understand what’s happening to you.' I’m one of his oldest coaches here in Rio, so he listens to me. He answered me: ‘Do you think so, master?’ And I said: ‘Of course. It wasn’t nice. I don’t know what you’re doing, but you’re letting success come to your head, losing humility.' He got upset when I said that, but he later recognized."
Bezerra said even in Silva's corner on fight night, his team tried to wake him up, "scolding" him on one occasion, but there was a sense that Silva knew exactly what he was doing, and that he would emerge victorious as he always had.
After he lost, though, he admitted that he struggled, and that he couldn't hit Weidman. At least part of the problem, in Bezerra's mind, is too many cooks in the kitchen; as many as 40 coaches for various things. That means too much information and not enough focus. But he said, that is how Silva likes it.
"Nobody likes to lose," Silva said. "I train four months to win. But you end [up] learning with your mistakes, and I learned the worst way possible. After everything that happened, we calm down and I realized I had something to question, even question Anderson Silva. I lost to myself, and that’s the worst loss. Losing by knockout shakes you, [it] will be in history, but will leave a lesson."
Silva also seemed annoyed by rumors of a fix, saying no true fan would ever suggest such a thing given his respect for the sport's fans and for Brazil. In December, he plans to show the win was just a harsh lesson. One day, the 38-year-old "Spider" will fight no more. But for now, he has designs on proving he is still the best.
Bezerra certainly thinks he'll prove that, guaranteeing "100 percent" that Silva will get the belt back, and that if his charge fights seriously, he'll finish Weidman inside of two rounds.
"Everybody has to retire, but it’s not my time yet," Silva said. "I’ll get a rematch. Chris gave me this opportunity and we’re fighting again. That’s another chance to overcome, reinvent myself as a person and athlete."
[Editor's note: Brazilian journalist Guilherme Cruz contributed the translations for this report.]