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The Unsupportable Opinion: Chris Weidman Beating Anderson Silva Was the Best Thing That Could’ve Happened to the UFC

(Photo via Esther Lin of MMAFighting.)

By Matt Saccaro

You can mourn for Anderson Silva’s pristine UFC record and title run if you want — but you shouldn’t. The Spider losing to Chris Weidman was the best possible outcome at UFC 162. Even Anderson Silva himself said that Weidman winning was the ideal situation.

Hear me out before you add your voice into the chorus of angry Silva fans (and spambots) in the comments.

A relatively new UFC fighter knocking off an established “star” was an amazing development for the UFC and for MMA as a whole.

First, the inevitable rematch between now-(interim?)champ Chris Weidman and former champ Anderson Silva is going to be a massive draw. Does the UFC have a fight that can fill Cowboys Stadium? It’s impossible to tell now since the fight only happened two days ago. But what’s known for sure, is that Silva-Weidman II will be big. Possibly UFC 100 big.

UFC 100 drew an estimated 1,600,000 buys. Silva-Sonnen II—a fight where much of the fan interest came from the fact that Sonnen almost dethroned Silva—drew an estimated 925,000 buys. If Silva-Sonnen II drew approximately 300k more buys than Silva-Sonnen I, can you imagine what Silva-Weidman II will draw? Dana White projected the buy-rate for Silva-Weidman to be 800,000 buys (although, admittedly, that might be total bullshit because it’s Dana White). If Silva-Weidman II draws at least 300k more buys, it’ll be one of the few UFC PPVs to surpass the one million buys mark.

But there’s more to a rematch than just a one-off payday. Weidman being on a well-drawing PPV with Silva and then being on a potentially enormous PPV with Silva for a rematch might make the Long Island native a star at a time when the UFC is in desperate need of new ones. This isn’t a guarantee though, just a possibility. Other fighters have been on high-performing events and haven’t gone on to become superstars, just as other fighters have beaten established draws only to not become draws of equal or greater size themselves.

Second, Weidman’s win restored life to the middleweight division. Before, the Zuffa hype machine would drum up interest in a new Guy to Beat Silva™ only for Silva to humiliate that person. This went on like clockwork (with Silva-Sonnen I being the only slight hiccup) until Weidman turned the tables. Things are different now. Will the division become a revolving door of equally-matched contenders who all hold the belt? Or will Weidman manage to fend off the top ten fighters and become dominant for years? We get to watch the answers to these questions unfold right before our eyes now. Middleweight became the most exciting division in the UFC after Silva hit the canvas.

Third, the aftermath to UFC 162 will help us determine what lies in the UFC’s future. A star faded at UFC 162. Anderson Silva was brutally knocked out. Will Weidman, his replacement, be able to draw a crowd? What happens when all the established names of the old generation are replaced by the Chris Weidmans of the sport? Will the lamps go out all over the MMA world? Or will MMA have a new Renaissance? We don’t know right now, but we can get a better idea when we see how Weidman performs on PPV and if he becomes a (inter)nationally recognized name.

Fourth, and most importantly, if Silva had won we might’ve had Roy Jones Jr. in the UFC. MMA owes Weidman a debt of gratitude for stopping this from happening.

Had the 38-year-old Silva held onto the belt for a little while longer, nothing would have come of it. Joe Rogan and Mike Goldberg would trot out tired statistics and legendary records but the sport wouldn’t move. It’d be frozen in a previous era. Now, MMA is liberated. So don’t be upset. Silva lost. Weidman won. And that’s great.

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JeanHarrison- July 9, 2013 at 3:41 pm
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mackenho- July 8, 2013 at 9:49 pm
"The Chris Weidmans of the sport" - pretty crappy pigeonholing here. 1) We don't know exactly how good he is yet so let's suspend judgment - 2) if we had to make a call on his ability, let's say he's f*cking awesome - a very special fighter in his own right. He's given us no reason at all to doubt it. And I worship Anderson Silva.
Mr_Misanthropy- July 8, 2013 at 3:32 pm
Hey Matt- A

re you a fan of Newman's Own Sockarooni Pasta Sauce? Maybe you could get a sponsorship from them in the future.
DANAWHITESBFF- July 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm
@Alan K

He'll fight Weidman and he probably will dance and clown a little less. I doubt he'll ever stop clowning. He's 38 years old. He won't change his style. But the openings he exposed during the fight. He close he got to Chris. He won't let that slip away. Chris Weidman did an incredible job. Outstanding. And I'm an avid Anderson Silva fan. He's the reason I train now. I definitely feel that Anderson underestimated him and Chris was the one who won the mind games in the cage. Do I think it will happen again? Fuck no. But then again. Anderson Silva lost. Nothing is sacred anymore.
Gobbleston- July 8, 2013 at 11:46 am
@Alan K: He even kind of suggested stuff like that being of interest to him. Saying he's no longer interested in the belt suggests to me, a desire for superfights and freak=show fights. Which I support. I really think the stress of Silva's endless title reighn finally caught up to him and it finally popped. Watch his earlier UFC fights. He didn't used to do that stupid shit.
Alan K- July 8, 2013 at 8:40 am
How does Anderson losing prevent a fight with Roy Jones, Jr.? If anything, it makes it more likely to happen because now Anderson is free to take fights like that since he isn't restricted by having to defend the middleweight title now.
Get Off Me- July 8, 2013 at 8:35 am
Weidman proved that trash talk does not sell fights...the perceived notion that a challenger can beat a champion does. Look at Sonnen/Silva 1, tons of trash talk got 600k buys(nothing ground breaking for a Silva fight) where as the second bout sold 30% more due to the real threat Chael posed in the first bout that made many believe he could win and made the rematch a must see...trash talk had next to nothing to do with it...if Weidman/Silva does a higher number than Silva/Sonnen 1 you have your proof.

I do think Weidman winning was a good thing, if not for the simple fact that Anderson may now have a trilogy with Weidman that will make the 185lbs division very interesting over the next year and re kindles the perception that Anderson is beatable again....something that has proved to generate interest for Silva in the past.

All the greats make mistakes and it was refreshing to see Anderson get caught, not dominated, caught up in a series of poor decisions that cost him his belt. Early feeling is that Silva will come in next time without the hot dogging and win so I am not sure his star has faded all that much. Weidman made the 185lbs title relevant again(even to Anderson after he has time to let this loss sink in) though and so I agree with the unsupportable that this was the best thing over the weekend. Also Weidman most likely ridded us of having to watch Silva dance around so much next time out.
whiterice- July 8, 2013 at 7:40 am
A lot of the draw for Sonnen-Silva II was also due to Sonnen's trash talk. Weidman doesn't have much of that star power/ hype ability.

A rematch would be big, but not as big as you suggest. With so many people calling 'fluke', I think the rematch looks more like GSP-Serra II. It's unfair to Weidman, I think, but just the way it is.
hespecful- July 8, 2013 at 7:05 am
I'm not that jazzed about it. We just have yet another wrestler champion. MMA is becoming less MMA and more "Wrestle Boxing". It seems like the only style that consistently picks up wins so eventually every champion will have a style like all the others.
bgoldstein- July 8, 2013 at 6:23 am
As Tito Ortiz might say, "July 4th came early this year."