There is a lingering question on fight fans minds: “Did Anderson Silva throw the fight against Chris Weidman in UFC 162 this last Saturday?” Though the twitter-sphere, blogosphere, and Facebook newsfeed has blown up recently with tales of how and why Anderson Silva threw his fight, I think Dana White’s colorful post-fight comments that these people “are (expletive) idiots”, is a bit more accurate, and that they should probably not dismiss the most accomplished UFC fighter to date. Instead, let me offer a different perspective.
If you watch the first round of the Silva vs. Weidman bout, Weidman proved, early on, the same thing that Chael Sonnen proved, that Silva’s Achilles heel is facing high-level wrestlers whose focus is primarily Ground-and-Pound. Chael Sonnen managed to put Silva on his back every round in UFC 117, landing a brutalizing 320 strikes, to Silva’s dismal 64 throughout the fight, and then Silva, pulled out a miraculous triangle choke with 1m50s left in the final round. Anderson Silva realized early on against Weidman, that he did not want to repeat this kind of history.
My theory, Anderson Silva realized 1-minute into the fight, that he was completely out-classed on the ground, and knew that his best shot would be to keep the fight standing. After the initial takedown, Silva spent the rest of his fight with Weidman baiting, cajoling, and even begging Weidman to keep it standing. In between round one and two, Silva can be seen pointing to the crowd, and screaming “stand-up, stand-up” from across the ring.
This is not the first time we have seen such histrionics in the cage from Silva, although, never to such an extreme. Silva’s mind games are what has kept many of his fights off the ground. All we should do as fight fans is praise young Chris Weidman, for keeping his head on a swivel, protecting his chin, containing his emotions, and ensuring his strikes fired down the pipe.
Perhaps Silva’s hubris is what got him knocked out on Saturday, and perhaps Joe Rogan is right, that “This is a lesson for young fighters”, but lest I remind you, that this same hubris is what made him the most accomplished fighter of all time.
All that being said, the five-second highlight of Silva pretending to be hurt, only to be walloped with an over-hand right was, and will continue to be perhaps the most gratifying highlight for fight fans for years to come.