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Want to talk Anderson Silva’s defense? Let’s talk about vexed, baby

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Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

In the mixed martial arts, three days can easily feel like an eon. On Monday, Tim Kennedy appeared on The MMA Hour and said he’d like to fight Anderson Silva on Dec. 5 at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. By Thursday, the Dallas event had already morphed into a Las Vegas event, Kennedy found himself in the bad graces of the UFC’s official sponsor, Reebok, and Silva…well, let’s just say Silva won’t be available.

The GOAT showed up to his Nevada Athletic Commission hearing on Thursday with a rather…unformed? unique? impromptu?...defense to explain how steroids ended up in his system back in January for UFC 183 for his fight with Nick Diaz. Turns out those steroids ended up in his system the old-fashioned way: Via a sex-enhancing liquid elixir in a blue vial brought expressly from Thailand from a buddy named Marcos whom he had trained with once or twice but, for reasons all his own, came to trust implicitly.

Pretty common mistake, really.

Yet, sound though that explanation might have seemed, the sober NAC panel thought they spotted some "inconsistencies" in the defense. After something like an hour-and-a-half of clumsy "case making," Silva was handed down a one-year suspension (retroactive back to Jan. 31) fined $380,000 (for his win bonus and 30 percent of his purse) and stricken of his victory over Diaz. The original decision win will now become a "no contest." That means Silva’s last victory falls a little further into the rearview mirror, all the way back to UFC 153, when he beat another controversial figure, Stephan Bonnar.

And so this is how they put the GOAT out to pasture.

To dash a little salt on the wound, the NAC called Silva’s testimony "soft," which had all the punsters who’d tuned in on the UFC’s Fight Pass slapping their britches. And really, though the punishment wasn’t all that severe in the end -- Silva can fight as soon as early-2016, it would have been far worse a month from now -- it’s that he put himself through such mortification that’s hard to understand.

Rather than admit to cheating, Silva put his libido on public trial.

Had Silva just confessed to taking something, said "my bad" a couple of times, and simply apologized, he’d have likely been given some variation of the same punishment. But he would have spared himself the fiasco. And make no mistake, what happened on Thursday was a fiasco. This time it wasn’t the NAC panel so much as Silva’s backpedaling, the dueling translators, the over-indulgence of personal information, and the gullibility that came into play. What dignities Silva carried in the cage didn’t find their way to the courtroom. Maybe he’d have been better off pleading the fifth, as he tried to do early on (apparently, it was a little lost in translation). But instead, he ran around in circles, which was as painfully awkward to watch as it was entertaining.

To make matters worse, some wisenheimer kept piping in songs by 2 Live Crew and Salt-N-Pepa ("Let’s Talk About Sex") over the testimony, which cracked Ed Soares and some of the NAC board up. Silva, the greatest fighter MMA has yet known, had put himself into a ridiculous position to become the butt of many jokes.

The thing is, Silva didn’t want to be known as a cheat. Nobody who ends up before an athletic commission wants to be regarded that way. The NAC has heard every plea of innocence there is. The simplest thing to do for a person in that position is to play dumb and avow no knowledge as to how something illegal got their system. The record will show that almost nobody has voluntarily taken a performance-enhancing drug. You can look it up. The quacks who hand out prescriptions and loaded supplements, those are the real evildoers. Any competitor that ends up taking them is a victim. Usually a victim that’s learned a valuable lesson, though, if there can just be some leniency.

That logic is easy to understand. It’s better to go down as an innocently duped bystander than a cheat.

But man. It was hard to watch Silva, who for so long was sacrosanct in this sport, go to such lengths to avoid the tag. And for what? This whole ordeal can’t help but send a shockwave back down his entire resume anyway. How far do things go back? Will this strange episode taint everything Silva’s accomplished? If history has shown us anything, it’s that it’s hard to get out of this sport with a sound mind and a clean reputation.

And it’s even harder watching people lose their minds a little bit to stay in it.