I have seen the vast array of opinions in response to Weidman beating Silva. Let's get a couple things out of the way. Weidman beat Silva, he took it from him and Silva lost. Weidman was cool, calm and had the required skill set to beat anyone on any given night, and that is what happened. People know what they saw in Weidman, but everyone wants to know why was Silva acting the way he did? I have seen some writers say, "well that's is the way he has always been." They will say these antics he was projecting were a norm for him. Some more ludicrous comments have been put out there like, "Silva wanted to lose" or "he wanted to give to him". My answer to all those questions is, Silva was there to win, but as to why he fought like that, I will try to answer that now. I have had the privilege of being able to see all of Anderson Silva's fights in the UFC and as time has passed I have attempted to gain insight as to what drives him. Lets take a look at his fights and see if he has always acted as he did July 6th.
His first bout in the UFC came against Chris Leben when more people favored Leben against an unknown Silva. Silva made short work of him with no display of clowning. Why was that? Possibly because he was new in the UFC and wanted to make a good impression. It is also quite possible that he considered Leben a threat to knock him out. Either way it was clear he was there to take care of business.
His next fights were against the likes of Rich Franklin, Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, and James Irvin. In all those fights, there was no evidence of the clown that was there this pas Saturday. Those antics which someone of said of Saturday were, "he was doing it to keep it standing," didn't show up that night. When he battled Rich Franklin, he was fighting for the title and obviously there to take care of business. He felt Franklin to be a worthy opponent and showed his respect by putting a no nonsense effort in dismantling Franklin. In their rematch, it was more of the same, but we did see Silva bobbing and weaving for the first time, but it was clearly visible that those movements weren't rooted from a place of disrespect or from someone trying to embarrass his opponent. Taking on Travis Lutter in his third fight in the UFC, Silva was still in "serious" mode throughout the fight, but found himself in trouble because Lutter's ground game was better than his. Silva's jiu-jitsu has come along way since then, but on that night he knew enough to slap a triangle on Lutter and finish him. Fights against Marquardt, Henderson, and Irvin represented the last fights in which Silva was completely all business. Why? Did he considered them threats? I believe so. They did have the skills in the eyes of many, himself as well, to be able to take him out in some way. There is something else though that we have to acknowledge. In beating these three, it would also further his legacy. Marquardt being a standout middleweight former King of Pancrase, Henderson being the Pride middleweight champion, and Irvin was Silva's first trek up to light-heavyweight. All three fights, if won, were going to further his legacy. He didn't have to win spectacular fashion. He just had to win and he knew it. So what next? Who does he face after beating a person like Dan Henderson, who many consider one of the greatest pound for pound fighters of all time or Rich Franklin who has been in many more main events since he lost to Silva? Who can be a bigger challenge than those guys? Patrick Cote? Thales Leites? Damien Maia?
The next four fights in the UFC that came for Silva saw the rise of the "clowning antics." Patrick Cote and Thales Leites were good fighters with singular threats. Cote had power and Leites had slick submissions. Knowing that and knowing that beating these guys would bring him nothing more than another win, Silva started showing an arrogance for the first time as if these guys didn't belong with him in the cage. It was like he was forced to fight guys he felt weren't worthy. With Cote, we starting seeing weird movements, but he knew he had to be careful with his power, so the antics were somewhat watered down a bit until a fluke injury to Cote that ended the fight. With Leites, if anyone watches the fight, after the first round and Leites' failed attempts to get the fight where he could win, it was like Silva knew or at least felt as though he could win at any time. Now though it was like, for him winning was not enough. For him, it was like he had to win in some spectacular fashion and demonstrate that he was so far superior to who the UFC put in front of him and shame on them for making him fight such unworthy competition. The opportunity never presented itself and he won a lackluster decision. His next two fights were more of the same. People gloss over his demolition of Forest Griffin, but he began his antics after he felt Griffin didn't have what is took to beat him. He didn't have the power or speed and Silva knew that. He goaded Griffin to punch him and after still having enough of his cat like reflexes, he was able to compensate for his clowning and he knocked Griffin out. Damien Maia is usually the fight that stands out as the fight everyone remembers as Anderson Silva's low point in the UFC. Coming into the fight the word was Maia was going to do what Lutter couldn't and submit Silva. Silva though, probably could see that Maia was not in his league as a fighter and after stuffing his take downs in the first round and proving, at least to himself, that everyone was wrong, he began to clown. It continued the rest of the fight and that moment to end the fight in some "Bruce Lee" way never presented itself. People have to understand that as great as Silva is, he is human and it showed in that fight. Maia had the same opportunity Chris Weidman had, he just didn't have the power to take advantage of it or the moment. Somewhere in latter stage of their fight, Maia landed a clean, solid punch on Silva while he was egging him on and the first thoughts in my head were, wow..Silva is lucky Maia doesn't hit hard. Silva didn't plan on getting hit, he was just lucky it didn't knock him out. He walked out that night with another decision, but that night was biggest illustration of Silva's biggest flaw. He was starting to believe he was that much better than everyone else and with that, he let that overcome his better judgement. In his next series of fights saw the return of the all business Silva with some occasional appearances by the clown.
To be continued....