LAS VEGAS -- It was in everyone's best interests late Saturday night to pretend that Anderson Silva wasn't done in by his own hubris.
In Chris Weidman's case, the idea that he simply got lucky and caught someone who was clowning could overshadow his very real, significant accomplishment. He wasn't intimidated by Silva's aura, kept his focus, and did what so many considered impossible in knocking out Silva in the MGM Grand Garden Arena octagon at UFC 162.
"That's just part of the warfare," Weidman said. "He's trying to defeat you. It's like any other style. It works for him. I tried to not let it get into my head. I was like, 'I'm going to keep walking forward, walking forward, throwing my punches.' Then it got to a point where he was doing it and I was like, 'Screw this. I'm hitting him.' "
For Silva, it's a matter of pride. After having both a title reign of nearly six years and nine months and a 17-fight win streak snapped in such a manner, it's best to be humble in defeat, praise his conqueror, and say the loss was a game plan gone awry.
"I always try to do my best and tonight I did my best," Silva said. "I tried to induce Chris into my game and that didn't work. He throw some shots that landed and I got caught."
UFC president Dana White just saw his megabuck superfights vanish in the split seconds it took for Silva to go from fake wobbling to real-life down and out, so you can't really blame him for being in denial.
"Fans came here to see a fight and they saw a great fight tonight," White almost spit. "Was it disrespectful? I don't know. This is fighting. How do you disrespect someone in a fight? I'm going to punch you in the face, try to knock you out and try to take your leg off."
Sure, Dana. And while we're at it, when Leon Lett showboated his way to the end zone during Super Bowl XXVII and was stripped by a hustling Don Beebe just shy of the goal line, he was merely using a different approach to scoring, not disrespecting the game.
If you look at the reign of Anderson Silva, for all the much-deserved plaudits thrown his way for his brilliance, there was always the other side.
A different Anderson Silva showed up in the cage when he thought his challenger was unworthy. There was the bizarre Patrick Cote fight. The excruciating Thales Leites matchup. The clowning against Demian Maia.
You didn't see that side of Silva against Rich Franklin. Or Dan Henderson. Or Chael Sonnen. Whenever Silva felt seriously threatened, we saw Silva the killer in action.
But the Cote/Leites/Maia version of Silva re-emerged against Weidman, and it finally caught up with him.
Credit Weidman for having the poise and mental toughness to keep his focus and capitalize in a way the others couldn't. Weidman earned his victory and is a worthy holder of the title. But only the naive and those with New York-area hometown bias believe Weidman was the true story coming out of Saturday night. UFC 162's shocking finish etches in stone the fact that Silva's clown antics at his worst is every bit a part of his championship legacy as his brilliance at his best.
UFC 162 quotes: Dana White edition
"That's the stupidest f--- thing I've ever heard." -- White, asked if the fight was fixed.
"Believe me, I must have 172 text messages from Vitor Belfort on my phone right now. He's a man of God, but I'm pretty sure he was swearing at me." -- White tells Vitor Belfort to wait his turn for a middleweight title shot.
"He texted me after his fight and said, I want to do this and I want to do that. I texted back ‘I love you, kid.' ... I really care about the kid, we'll see." -- White, asked about one of his personal favorites, Chris Leben, after his loss to Andrew Craig.
"I don't care about the money side of the superfights. The fighters do. I told Jon [Jones], ‘you lost a billion dollars tonight.' Jones was bummed." -- White on the squandered superfights involving Silva.
"If I say, ‘listen, you gotta build this fight up. You gotta make it look like Chris Weidman might have a chance to win this fight, so I need you to do interviews,' first of all, half of them wouldn't f--- do it. Second of all, if I could talk someone into it, the first thing they'd say to me when they were pissed at me was ‘you know what he did, he made us go out and say Chris Weidman was going to win.' In a heartbeat. Everyone one of them would tell you guys." -- White mocks the notion he encouraged UFC fighters to say Weidman would win, in order to hype the fight.
"If we're an Evil Empire, we're a pretty f--- good Evil Empire." -- White.
Stock up: Whole lot of fighters
The finish to the Silva-Weidman fight overshadowed what was one of the best night of performances, from top to bottom, of any UFC show in recent memory. Frankie Edgar came out swinging against Charles Oliveira and put on exactly the type of performance he needed to show he's still a legit championship contender. Oliveira, for his part, justified his spot in the co-main by looking strong in defeat. Mark Munoz would have been the evening's biggest winner on many other nights. He looked sharp in his first fight after a well-documented bad year. His victory over Tim Boetsch should be used as proof of how exciting MMA wrestling can be when done right. Cub Swanson showed the eye of the tiger in his comeback victory over Dennis Siver. With five straight wins, he's proven he's a different fighter than the one Jose Aldo Jr. ran over in the WEC. And let's not forget undercard performers like Edson Barboza, who acted like a lumberjack splitting a log with his beautifully horrible leg-kick TKO of Rafaello Oliveira, or Brian Melancon, who went for broke and finished Seth Baczysnki in the final second of the first round of their bout. It was a night on which many fighters shined bright.
Stock down: Tim Kennedy
This might seem a bit unfair, since Kennedy did what he had to do in order to neutralize a taller foe in Roger Gracie and grind out a victory. But when a fighter makes as big a stink about his payday as Kennedy did leading up to UFC 162, and the entire audience responds to your fight by doing the wave during the third round when the fight was in the balance ... well, that one speaks for itself.
White couldn't resist the urge to stick it to Kennedy in the post-news conference media scum. "I called Tim Kennedy out in the fighter meeting and I said ‘you wanna make more money? Go out there and be exciting. Make people talk about you Sunday and Monday. When people are doing the f--- wave during your fight, they might not be too excited about your fight."
Good call/Bad call
This wasn't those "Nevada nights." You know, those Las Vegas fight cards which end with White's head turning several shades redder than usual as works himself into a froth over Nevada Athletic Commission executive director Keith Kizer's choice of officials. The only minor sour notes were Kim Winslow getting in a step slow on Gabriel Gonzaga's flash knockout of Dave Herman, and Herb Dean letting Siver take a couple punches more than necessary against Swanson. But by and large, the referees and the judges both did their jobs and stayed in the background on Saturday night, which is how it should be in any sport.
Fight I'd like to see next (besides Weidman-Silva 2): Frankie Edgar vs. Cub Swanson
Featherweight is quickly becoming the new lightweight in terms of quality fighters at the top. Edgar and Swanson both stated their cases on Saturday night with impressive victories. But they're not the only elite fighters on the list. Both Ricardo Lamas and Anthony Pettis have a vested interest in the winner of the Aug. 3 Jose Aldo Jr. vs. Chan Sung Jung fight. And Chad Mendes is still out there. Edgar vs. Swanson? Not only does it have the potential to be one of the most fun "fun fights" out there, it would also be a significant fight in the divisional scheme of things. Yes, please.