At the end of the first round of Saturday night’s main event between then-UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva and number one contender Chris Weidman, the two fighters met in the middle of the octagon, exchanged a few words and after embracing each other for a brief moment, Silva kissed Weidman on the cheek before heading to his corner.
Most often as a sign of respect, fighters will embrace each other at the conclusion of a fight, or, as we’ve seen in the UFC over the past couple of years, the embrace will occur after a particularly intense round in which both combatants have given everything that they have in an attempt to win the bout. Simply put, the embrace signifies a mutual respect between the two, earned only through head to head combat that ends with a mutual recognition of each other’s abilities
After a first round that included everything from Silva comically exaggerating the damage done by Weidman’s punches, to the champ continuously standing still, hands down, back against the cage, using only the pure quickness in his upper-body to defend against Weidman’s relentless onslaught, just as he had done most recently against Stefan Bonnar, there were very few who knew what to expect at the start of the second round.
When the first round concluded however, the embrace led many, including myself, to assume that Silva had realized that Weidman was indeed dangerous and therefore worthy of the same respect that “The Spider” would give to any one of the elite contenders within the sport.
We now know that this wasn’t the case.
Instead, Silva begin the second round in the same way that he ended the first. Refusing to raise his hands in defense and at times, even letting the odd punch get through. Finally, one minute and eighteen seconds into the round, Silva mockingly stuck his head out one too many times and it cost him the UFC Middleweight Championship,.
His seven-year reign as champion over, the greatest mixed martial artist of all time lay flat on his back, eyes rolling back in his head and clearly unconscious while those fortunate enough to be witnessing MMA history looked on in disbelief, completely breathless.
While many believe that the last fighter to defeat Anderson Silva was current UFC middleweight Yushin Okami in early 2006, that victory came courtesy of a first round disqualification. Due to the circumstances that led to the Okami loss, the last time that Silva truly lost a fight actually occurred in late 2004 at a Pride event when he was submitted by Ryo Chonan in the third round, nearly nine years ago.
Whether it was his 10 consecutive title defenses, his 17-fight win streak, or the fact that he hadn’t lost a fight in nearly 9 years, (with the exception of the Okami disqualification), Anderson Silva embodied true greatness whenever he stepped into the cage,
Now, with his reign of dominance and spotless record as a UFC fighter no more, it seems as though we are destined to see Silva in only big money “super fights”and catch weight legacy bouts until his recently signed 10-fight contract with the UFC expires.
However, it didn’t take long for UFC President Dana White to publicly doubt Silva’s commitment to no longer competing for the middleweight championship as he stated immediately following the loss and for once, fight fans everywhere hope that White knows something that the rest of us don’t.
Love him or hate him, Anderson Silva will be missed. Not a because he won’t be fighting in the UFC, he clearly intends to fulfill his contractual obligations. He will be missed because the “real” Anderson Silva, the man that when at his best is simply on another level, will know longer be the fighter that enters the octagon.
For that reason, not only the UFC but the entire world of MMA, will never again be the same and now must begin the search for the new standard of excellence..
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