Anderson Silva's next series of fights saw more of that Silva we saw at the beginning. Against Chael Sonnen it is said he had a rib injury and that is would led to him getting hammered by Sonnen for 4 and 1/2 rounds and I tend to believe that only by comparing his other fights and his take down defense. The truth though, is that even though he had a rib injury, Chael Sonnen did have the best skill set to beat him. Dominant wrestler with under rated boxing. If we learned anything about Silva on that night, other than he was susceptible to dominant double leg wrestlers, was that it was impossible to break him mentally. After being battered for all that time and still have the intestinal fortitude to submit Sonnet, was evident of that notion. Next was Vitor Belfort, who most believed was the man to take Silva down. Belfort a former champ, even though that was flukey, was still viewed as a man with the physical tools to destroy anyone, but with questions about his psyche. Silva probably felt Belfort was truly a threat, but also beating him would do more for him than victories over force fed foes like Cote, or Maia. The fight lasted less than a round and ended in a Silva-esque manner, but something else was also clear. The clown never showed up. Many will say, the fight was too short for him to show up. The fight lasted long enough and Silva had already felt enough of Belfort's game to know what he was facing and he most likely deduced that he had to stay on his toes. Next was his revenge fight against Okami, who was also force fed to him. Many people will say, "he wanted a chance to avenge his loss." I don't buy that. To me, it was clear he didn't view Okami as a worthy opponent. At this point he had been champion for almost five years. Boredom had probably already set in and the last thing he wanted to do was go through a camp to fight Okami, but he did. When they did fight, the clown showed up a bit. After Okami tried to take him down and Silva stuffed them, it's like in previous fights where Silva in his mind had decided, "see, he can't beat me by his grinding style and I can't believe I am in here wasting my time." That's when he started goading Okami, like Maia before him, and he started his "antics." They weren't as bad as his fight with Maia, but they were present. Okami in response simply broke and was overwhelmed when he tried attacking Silva. After beating Okami, Silva rematched Sonnen and this time, injury free, had a better showing. Silva was intent on displaying that he was better than Sonnen and last time was a fluke. Silva in the first round let his emotion get the best of him and attacked Sonnen at the sound of the bell and was taken down immediately. After escaping the first round, he came back the second round in a more composed Silva like mindset. He stuffed Sonnen's take downs and when Sonnen got desperate, the finish began with him placing a knee to the chest to a grounded Sonnen. This fight with Sonnen was one that showed the Silva that battled Franklin, Henderson and Belfort. He was all business and zero clownish antagonistic antics.
At this point, he has been the champion for almost six years and people have to think, how does he get up for his next fight? Anyone who has ever done any job in the world can tell you, that no matter the job, you are bound to get bored after so many years. You are bound to try to figure out ways to challenge yourself. I think that is where Silva was at after the second Sonnen fight. It is the UFC's job to provide such challenges, but being without many options, they offer up a no-name Chris Weidman. Silva of course sees another Cote, Leites, Maia fighter who he is being forced to settle for, knowing that a win would do nothing for him like the win he had over Dan Henderson did. So he decides to fight Stephan Bonner, who was clearly over matched, regardless of the fact that he was visibly bigger than Silva. It was a tremendous risk for Silva to take the fight, but still one he was expected to win, so what would a win do for him? Probably nothing, which is why he decided to bring the matrix out in the fight. It should be pointed out that it didn't happen until Bonner failed to take him down. It is like Silva feels that the only way he can be defeated is on the ground and if someone can't get him there, he certainly has so much confidence that he is the best striker, that he won't get knockout. Against Bonner, after he started his clowning gestures, he was luckily able to avoid any big shots and walk out with a one of kind victory. I guarantee though that if he had just walked in there and took Bonner out in an efficient way, everyone would have said he was supposed to do that, but the way he did it added a level of difficulty to the fight in such away people thought he had beaten a Rich Franklin caliber type fighter. It was like the best NFL team spotting the worst team 30 points in an effort to add luster to a foregone conclusion. I am not going to give him credit and say he thought of all that, but in doing it for himself as a personal challenge, it had an after affect on how the rest of the world saw it. Now we come to Chris Weidman.
Many were believing that Chris Weidman was the man to truly take Silva down in the way 16 other men couldn't. With his size, skill set and Silva's slow decline with age, the media thought, Weidman is the guy. Like many others, doing the eye test on Weidman, Silva truly felt that as good as Weidman is and may be in the future, he didn't deserve or belong with him at this time. The talk was Weidman was going to take Silva down and do what Sonnen couldn't, finish him. By beating Weidman, it would do no more for Silva than his victory over Maia. Now to the fight.
I just heard Franklin McNeil and Bret Okamoto talking with Josh Gross from ESPN.com as they dissected what happened in the fight. I could not disagree with McNeil more about his opinion. He felt as though Silva was getting desperate because he felt Weidman's power and size, so he just felt clowning around would be the only way for Weidman to open up and make a mistake. That is about the worst opinion I have heard yet, other than the fight fixing one. Look at the history of Silva. When he feels someone is threat, he fights like a man on a mission. After Weidman got that first take down and Silva got back to his feet, Silva knew the fight was his for the taking. He stuffed all of Weidman's shots from there on out. Silva wasn’t desperate. He felt validated in his thought process that Weidman was more in the category of a Cote or Leites rather than a Henderson or Belfort. This is where Silva's arrogance finally came to haunt him. His ego overcame his respect for all other fighters that exist and forgot that he is not perfect. He is getting older. As great as his reflexes are, it is fair to say they probably have diminished a bit. He may be on some many levels above all the others fighters that he can get away with being a clown letting guys with four ounce gloves hit him thinking it wouldn’t hurt him, but with age and evolving fighters, the space between him and his counterparts is diminishing everyday. Chris Weidman was good enough to show that to him. Silva was clearly strong enough to shrug off Weidman's take downs and he was obviously faster, so are people going to sit there and say Weidman was probably going to beat him or Silva was getting desperate? I would think not.
If people want to say Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva, then I agree. If they want to say Weidman deserves it and Silva deserved what he got for being a disrespectful piece of you know what, then I agree. If they want to say that Weidman is really good and will beat a majority of middleweights, I agree. If they want to say that Weidman showed zero fear and took advantage of situation, then I definitely agree. If they want to say Silva lost because he was doing what he's always done, I would start to disagree. He doesn't always fight like that. Look at the past.16 fights in the UFC. Watch them. If they want to say he lost because Weidman is nightmare match up for him, I will say, look at the fight. Silva was never in any danger in the fight and seized the control at the end of the first round where it became evident that Weidman was going to have a tough time taking him down again. I will say that Silva lost because he can no longer get away with the goading antics that he got away with in the past. He is older, his reflexes are not as perfect as they were in the past and the fighter's are getting better as well. I do believe that if Silva gives Weidman the respect he gave to like Rich Franklin, he will run him over, but if he doesn't he could find himself on his back out cold, again. Winning has to be enough for him like it once was. He doesn’t have the luxury anymore in trying to create moments of danger for himself to show himself and the rest of the world that he is classes above the types of fighters the UFC has to offer him in the middleweight division. He has to be happy with winning and maybe this loss will make him realize that once more.