Over the years, Freddie Roach consistently referred to Anderson Silva as the best pure boxer in MMA -- with only one caveat.
Roach, one of boxing's most storied trainers, often warned that Silva plays around too much in the cage, allowing opponents to hang around longer than they should. And just as Roach predicted, Silva's penchant for the theatrical ultimately led to his downfall.
"I definitely saw him get knocked out," Roach said, referring to Silva's UFC 162 loss to Chris Weidman on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "My thought on that is that he just plays around too much. I think it's too easy for him sometimes. He just got caught playing around. In this sport, one punch can change things, and this isn't a sport you should actually play [around].
"The thing is, I think he gets a little bored in there because he's talented, and he seems like he's more talented than a lot of the guys. He is one of the best I've ever worked with. He understands timing and distance really well. I think he could've avoided taking those shots, but again, I'm not sure what his thought process was. I think he was just a little bit lazy and playing around too much."
More than a month after the fact, Silva's loss remains a shocking reminder that no man is invincible in this sport. The image of Weidman's left hand colliding into Silva's jaw, and Silva crashing onto the mat, his eyes rolled back into his skull, will be replayed ad infinitum. How Silva handles the pair's rematch at UFC 168 will determine whether that moment will signify a simple bump in the road, or the end of an era.
"Obviously a loss is a loss. Regardless of how he lost or why he lost, it's not anyone's fault but your own," Roach said. "It's part of his career, it's part of his life, so we can't say, ‘Well, he wasn't ready for that one,' or, ‘He didn't train for that one.' It is going to be part of his legacy and I think he needs to come back and come back well."