(Yes, he knows. But will he ever tell us? Pic Props: Esther Lin for MMAFighting)
By Jason Moles
Last week, I had you play a word association game regarding a few UFC’s champions. For Georges St. Pierre and Jon Jones, I suggested the first word to pop into your head was “boring” and “spurious” respectively. However, when Anderson Silva‘s name came up, I said the word that would first break into your consciousness was “greatness.” Now that I think about it a little more, “hubris” may have taken its place, especially after Silva’s impetuous performance against Chris Weidman during UFC 162‘s main event. You hear the word hubris and almost immediately conjure the scene of Silva clowning Weidman and subsequently getting throttled for it. A ballet of mockery gone awry.
That sequence of events will forever be etched in the memory of MMA fans around the world and, for fans of Greek Mythology, it calls to mind the story of Icarus. As legend has it, Icarus’ father, Daedalus, constructed wings out of feathers and wax for the two of them in hopes of making a jailbreak. The woefully ignorant Icarus, full of hubris, instantly fell in love with flying (something only the gods were able to do), ignored his father’s warning about getting too close to the sun or flying near the sea, and soared as high as his makeshift wings would take him. Tragically, they would take him close enough to the sun that the wax melted, leaving our youthful protagonist flapping his arms in vain. Next thing you know, the falling Athenian crashes into the sea and drowns.
Here we are a few days removed and no one is really sure what to make of the events that transpired at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. To accurately figure out what happened in Vegas over the holiday weekend we should, perhaps, start by identifying what didn’t.
Late Saturday night, the world picked its collective jaw up from off the floor and tried to process what had just transpired in the Octagon. Could they have really seen what they thought they saw? Moments later, Bruce Buffer confirmed that we had, as only he can — “Aaaaannnd new…!!!” The consensus pound-for-pound greatest of all time, Anderson Silva, had been knocked off the middleweight throne in spectacularly brutal fashion.
Before Joe Rogan removed his headset to make his way into the Octagon for his usual post-fight interview, conspiracy theorists took to social media to call into question the official narrative of the mainstream media. A quick glance at Twitter immediately after the main event revealed that sports fans (myself included) are often prisoners of the moment, blind with emotion, or drunk at 12:30 AM.
If you’ve been on the internet at all in the days since, you’ve heard that Silva threw the fight to set up a lucrative rematch later on down the road, possibly during Super Bowl weekend 2014. You’ve also heard that after 16 years of earning a living cracking skulls in front of thousands of bloodthirsty fans he wanted to retire, and the easiest way he knew how was to put Chris Weidman over and pass the torch. Ideally, this would prevent UFC President Dana White from antagonizing him in the media in an attempt to capitalize on his mystique and drawing power. Let me reassure you…that didn’t happen. Silva didn’t lay down for anyone.
Had the fix been in, as was also suspected in more than a few fights over the years, it would have been more convenient and less humiliating for Silva to have tapped once Weidman applied the leg lock. If a retirement was at the forefront of his mind (Hint: It wasn’t — he still plans on fulfilling his 10-fight contract) simply doing what we all know he is capable of, getting one final ‘W’, and walking off into the sunset the undisputed G.O.A.T. is obviously preferable to potentially besmirching his legacy.
Yet another popular theory surrounding “The Spider’s” charades is that of boredom. Yes, it is believed by some that, out of boredom with fighting (or perceived lack of challenge in his opponent), the UFC middleweight champion needed to up the ante just to keep himself motivated to step into the cage again. By continually dropping his defenses, the runway was lit and waiting for all incoming fists. That in and of itself would’ve been enough of an obstacle for a guy squaring off against such a heavy hitter — but not Silva. He needed to stack the deck against himself even further by showboating around the Octagon.
When you fight like that against Stephan Bonnar, fans get it — you’re not concerned with his ability to shake your hand too hard, let alone erase your consciousness. Do it against an undefeated, two time Division I All-American wrestler with the power to make your eyes roll in the back of your head with the swing of a fist, and expect people to question your game plan. But this wasn’t the first time we’ve seen this out of Silva. Remember UFC 90, 97, 112, or 153? Each of these events are chapters in Silva’s book, The Art of
War Clowning, and even more reason not to be surprised at his in-cage antics. Another myth busted. None of the conspiracy theories hold any water if you take more than three minutes to think before you reach your conclusion.
So, what exactly did happen that night? If the champion didn’t throw the fight and he didn’t act any more absurd than in the past, how could this have happened?
Have you considered giving Chris Weidman any credit at all for doing what no one else before him could? Admittedly, I hadn’t until sometime Monday afternoon. At one point I used the words “gift wrapped” when discussing the title changing hands as a result of Silva’s performance against such a dangerous fighter. Like many other MMA pundits, I too was a prisoner of the moment. Now that the dust has settled, it’s painfully clear that the New York native is deserving of more credit for a victory that was far more calculated than it was fortuitous. Either that or Silva was caught flying too close to the sun.