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The Corrosive Hubris, The Power of Timing, and The Importance of Will




Anderson Silva had done it all. He'd shattered records, he'd dominated world class opponents, he'd done the impossible. Front kicking opponents, knockout jabs, hail Mary armbar triangle combos after a shellacking across four and a half rounds. The man had done it all, and against championship level opponents, former champs, and even significantly larger men.

But it wasn't just what he'd done. It was how he did it. Anderson Silva had dominated them, and had a total disdain for their skill set, the danger that those men posed. He'd drop his hands, taunt them, back up to the cage, and put himself into harms way to prove that he was the better fighter, and that they were nothing to him. Hubris had become Silva.

For a little while, it seemed utterly unforgivable. After utterly dominating and humiliating Demian Maia at UFC 112, Dana White threatened to cut the champ if he ever did those sort of things again. In Silva's next fight against Chael Sonnen, he wasn't given any time or space to taunt, and he pulled off one of the greatest come from behind victories in mixed martial arts history. And that was where it changed.

The bandwagon was filled to max capacity, with Silva fans joined by the members of casual MMA fandom. A front kick to the face of Vitor Belfort, a triumphant return to Brazil against Yushin Okami, and a dominant rematch against nemesis Chael Sonnen, all excusing in the cage and out of the cage antics. When Anderson Silva dismantled journeyman Stephan Bonnar at light-heavyweight, the hubris was said to be one of Anderson Silva's "techniques." It would take a soft spoken wrestler to show the world it was not.

In the title fight, Chris Weidman showed he could take Silva down, showed he was willing to take risks when it came to submissions (trying a heel hook, most likely inspired by Ryo Chonan), and showed he could dominate the floor. When Silva managed to stand himself back up, the hubris came to the surface yet again. He taunted Weidman, backing himself up against the cage, telling Weidman to punch him, pretending to be wobbled by a glancing blow. In the second round, that would come back to haunt him.

In one of the most shocking finishes of all time, Chris Weidman landed a loose left hook to a fade away Silva that knocked him out cold. Some elementary ground and pound bounced Silva's head off the canvas like a basketball on the court, and Herb Dean stopped the fight. Arrogance had been put down.

Really, it was arrogance that was the undoing of Anderson Silva. It is widely acknowledged that Anderson Silva is the better striker, when compared to Chris Weidman. The arsenal of attacks on the feet that Silva possess is far greater, the speed differential is in Silva's favor, and the willingness to throw without fear of being taken down is there as well. Part of the equation to Anderson Silva's loss was his intentional lowering of his hands. But Weidman possessed power, timing, and will too.

The timing of that left hook was impeccable. Right on the chin, textbook technique, and at the exact right second. If he had thrown it any sooner Silva would have probably ducked underneath it, any later and Silva would have eluded it like he's done so many times in his storied career. But not that night.

Weidman ended that combination right on time. His training and strength came into play, and he became the new champion. Timing is the determining factor in a lot of key fights. When Jackson clipped Liddell with his hook, when Ortiz dropped Bader, when Scott Smith leveled Pete Sell, all had timing on their side. Any sooner, the result wouldn't have been the same. Any later, they would have missed their chance. Timing is as key as any mentality, and new technique, and certainly any difference in perceived greatness.

Weidman also had willpower on his side. Where several fighters had already beaten themselves when they stepped into the cage against Anderson Silva, Weidman merely got pissed off. He was not one to take the antics of Silva lying down, going so far as to drill the taunts in his training camp. It paid off, clearly.

It was Weidman's willpower that allowed him to come back after a year off, from a major surgery, and dethrone the longest reigning champion in UFC history.

What this all boils down to is this: while Anderson Silva's arrogance cost him dearly, it cannot be stated enough how much Chris Weidman's will and the timing of his strikes were as big a part of the equation. He called his shot, upset the greatest of all time, and will be able to move forward in his life knowing that he is the newest in the elite category.

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