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The ‘WTF Anderson!?’ Thought Experiment

(‘Sup, Anderson? Seriously. Photo courtesy of Cage Today.)

Mere moments after his bout at UFC 90 had ended, Anderson Silva started getting something he rarely has before: hate mail. I was sitting next to the administrator of Silva’s official website at the time, and his blackberry was suddenly abuzz with critical emails like these:

“You should be apologizing to everyone for the way you fought. While cote was trying to push the fight, all you were doing was trying to show off and not even putting in a effort to knock him out right away. Hollywood has changed you hasnt it.”

“That was ridiculous , was a fan . Now I never want to see you fight again.”

“Please relay to “the spider”, he is an arrogant prick. myself, along with many of my friends, were once great fans of him. after tonights disgusting display, i personally despise him. He was a fucking asshole. the disrespect he displayed to the fans and to cote throughout the fight was something I will never forget.”

The fight had barely ended and already fans were jumping off the Anderson Silva bandwagon by the dozens. The media wasn’t far behind, with Yahoo’s Kevin Iole proclaiming that Silva had “made a mockery of himself” in the fight.

What happened in the fight seems less important now than why it happened. What was Silva trying to accomplish, and what does it say about him? Everyone has their theories, but few are without glaring holes. As long as we’re all speculating as to the man’s motivations, we might as well sort through some of the prevailing ideas:

1. Silva was “protesting” the choice of Cote as an opponent
In order to believe this, you first have to believe that Silva didn’t want to fight Cote, which not only goes against earlier statements he made, but also against his well-known desire to fight as often as possible. Never has he suggested that he’s anything but satisfied with the way the UFC has handled him, so why would he suddenly decide to try and screw his employer? Unless he developed an entirely new personality overnight, it just doesn’t make much sense.

2. Silva was toying with Cote in order to demonstrate his own dominance
It’s one thing to want to show how good you are, but another to be mean-spirited about it. Silva has developed a reputation for destroying people quickly, but he’s never been known as much of a showboat. Could it be that Silva somehow decided that “clowning around” was the last frontier for him? I suppose it’s possible, but where’s the evidence? The wacky hand feints are something he’s used before to some effect, and bowing to an opponent or offering him a hand up is only disrespectful if you assume it was sarcastic. He’s never seemed like the type to get a kick out of embarrassing people, so I have a hard time buying this one.

3. Silva was carrying Cote in an attempt to give the fans a show
Silva’s last trip into the Octagon was so brief it’s just possible that he felt a misguided need to give the fans their money’s worth by making the fight longer rather than better. That’s a bad idea, no question. Even when they complain about paying $45 for a main event that’s over before they can finish their nachos, fans still love a decisive finish more than a protracted bout with limited action. It’s possible Silva didn’t realize that. If that’s the case, something tells me he realizes it now.

4. Silva was too cautious out of respect for Cote’s power
The one thing everyone agreed upon before this fight was that Cote had a puncher’s chance, but that was all. That would seem to make a defensive strategy — one that exploits openings without getting too careless or overeager — sound like a good idea. Say what you will, but Silva fought a defensively brilliant fight, taking almost no damage while still winning rounds. Maybe it’s the result of spending too much time around Lyoto Machida. Whatever you think of it, you can’t deny that Silva was controlling that fight. Cote’s injury robbed us of the chance to see whether Silva had a finish in him, but that doesn’t mean we weren’t a few minutes away from a knockout.

5. Silva had a bad night
If you have enough fights, eventually you’re bound to have a bad one. It could be that Silva just wasn’t on his game, for whatever reason. At this point the expectations are so high that anything less than a first-round knockout seems like a disappointment, which is how a bad night turns into hysteria from the fans and media. Maybe we should just cut him some slack.

Maybe it’s too much to ask for a guy to live up to the ‘world’s greatest fighter’ mantle, especially when he takes every opportunity to deny it. Maybe we’re jumping to conclusions to suggest that by simply dominating the fight without ending it in the first three minutes, Anderson Silva must have been jerking us all around. Maybe the guy is mortal after all, and maybe it’s our own fault for ever thinking anything different.

(-Ben Fowlkes)

Cagepotato Comments

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Anonymous- October 26, 2008 at 8:55 pm
Ah, I forgot Brett Rogers and that giant greased-up faggot Kongo that got owned by Heath (my eye!!) Herring
Anonymous- October 26, 2008 at 8:51 pm
With Rashad Evans (somehow), Quinton Jackson, and Anderson Silva as the notable exceptions, black people tend to get their asses kicked one way or another all over the cage, and I don't foresee that changing anytime soon. Ho ho hohoho
Tomass- October 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm
SILVAS STILL #1 in my heart
snowman- October 26, 2008 at 7:46 pm
Silva controlled shit. He back pedalled the entire first round and landed a couple decent shots. I like both fighters and that was a draw heading into the third plain and simple.
Anonymous- October 26, 2008 at 7:34 pm
While I'm not a fighter, I find it hard to believe that he was considering every fight he's been in up to this point, and UNLIKE Leben or Henderson, Cote did go all in and did not fall wholly into the spider's web. Which is why paraphrasing his own words, he attempted to agitate Cote into making a mistake. He knew that losing to a guy like Cote would look bad, despite the fact Cote was pretty much hand picked to lose his last three fights he still won out in the end, and if it continued that may have been a possibility in this fight as well. It was a stretch but you never know. Yes, Anderson Silva is a much better fighter than Cote, but you can't count anyone out. I think Anderson Silva may feel vulnerable coming forward, especially against a hard puncher. Much like, and yet unlike Chuck Liddell, who feels nothing from all the coke and decides to fight others on their terms anyway.
Arsenal- October 26, 2008 at 7:28 pm
Think people are just looking for things to moan about, if Silva had of finished later in the 3rd or in the 4th/5th then most people wouldnt be whining. But Cote having to pull out has just given people a license to whinge about the first 2 will all pass.

MMA fans are like football fans (soccer to you yanks) ...fickle as hell. Calling for blood when they see things they dont like. Announcing you a god the next time you do something right.

Wait till Silva's next knockout and people will be swinging from his nut hair like tarzan
1 glove- October 26, 2008 at 7:28 pm
It did seem as if Silva was allowing the fight to go into the later rounds, I don't think Silva would do this for money, but what were the betting odds that Cote would make it past round 2?
Reginald Denny- October 26, 2008 at 7:12 pm
I can't believe they allow a black man to beat up on a white guy! UFC IS RACIST!
Mike- October 26, 2008 at 7:08 pm
Silva hits people and they drop fast. Cote did NOT drop fast. therefore, if you were silva, wouldn't you try and prevent Cote from having a chance of hitting you back?
massacre- October 26, 2008 at 7:06 pm
I can understand the bad night, and the urge to put on a show for the fans, yet lengthing a fight doesnt make it a good fight. 5 rounds of a shitty fight is still a shitty fight. And as far as respecting Cote's power......hes faced Leben, and Henderson both of whom are extremely powerful punchers, and Franklin who has the best stand up of all of them. Yet, he counters and attacks them thus knocking them the hell out which led to 2 ko's and a sub. So neither Cote's power or his 'game plan' that some might think threw Silva off, I would imagine are irrevelant and played no part of this freak occurence.
mma-pr0- October 26, 2008 at 7:01 pm
all you pussies need to stop crying about this fight, so he has dancing around, he landed most of what he threw, landed some significant shots, and if cote wouldnt have blown his knee out, he probably would have knocked him out, all you want to be mma fans, pissed cause he didnt score a knock out in the opening minute, so what if he show boated a little, and was doing some bruce lee shit, cry about it pussies, its not like the fight went to five round decision, the dude got injured who knows what couldhave happened with 15 minutes left to fight.
Aryan- October 26, 2008 at 6:53 pm
I think he was paid to not knock him out. I lost money on the first and the second round. Prick
Me- October 26, 2008 at 6:50 pm
Ever think for a minute that maybe his sponsors were mad about not being on screen enough? Let's say he gets 100k + expenses per fight from sponsors (not including his own brand, obviously). You think they want to be on screen for 1 minute? Hell no.

Of course this is all dependant on whether or not he is actually sponsored. I don't see why he wouldn't be, but I don't stare at his ass alot during his fights, only long enough to catch the wasp (spider bee?).

This somewhat falls in line with #3.
RHV- October 26, 2008 at 6:48 pm
You all should know that this isn't the first time Silva has showboated. It is his first time, however, he showboated in the UFC. This is nothing new.

Those emails quoted in this thread like "... now I never want to see you again...", these comments are ridiculous. This is why people think us MMA bloggers are idiots. A fighter doesn't perform the way you think he should and all of a sudden he's on your persons-to-murder list. Get over it.
Dota- October 26, 2008 at 6:44 pm
@Harrymanback You got it right man. Tool is the greatest!
Anonymous- October 26, 2008 at 6:34 pm

in his own words "it was his strategy" like I have been saying from the beginning, he couldn't get Cote to run into his trap so he tried to get inside his head and make him leave himself vulnerable. Cote went in with a good game plan, imo.
snicket916- October 26, 2008 at 6:31 pm

we need to stop hating on the fighters and start hating on that bleached tip faggot commentating. is there any way to contact the ufc to start sending them hate mail on goldberg?
snicket916- October 26, 2008 at 6:30 pm
people just love to hate. all of the hate mail he started receiving are from ignorant pricks. so what if he was lollygaggin throughout round 1 and 2. people are so quick to clown fighters, when they have never even been hit before in their life. how do we know anderson wasnt trying to preserve himself for a big fuckin fight on the new years card? im sure all of the haters would love to see him fight on new years. hate on goldberg if you are going to hate on someone.

Harrymanback- October 26, 2008 at 6:14 pm
I think Anderson was being cautious because of a few things:

Patrick's trainer Mark Dellagrote has cornered against Silva for something like three or four fights now. All along Cote talked about how they had the ultimate game plan and had Silva figured out (which is somewhat possible- he's had the chance to study and try out different game plans- eventually he'd probably hit the button). This doesn't mean that it would've been pretty and Patrick was prepared to get fucked right up in the process but he does have the capability to end the fight with one punch and Silva probably knew that. So, in an effort to look completely different from his usual self and not fall right into Cote's plans he took a page out of Machida's book. He danced around and played the Bruce Lee thing all the time out of danger range and bounced in to hammer Cote every so often. As other people have mentioned he probably had the misguided thought that acting like an idiot would be a suitable substitute for just plain running. Then he would've just looked like a coward. Misguided? Yes

As for Patrick Cote. Well- give the guy some credit. I'm sure part of his gameplan involved not rushing forward right into one of the best counterpunchers in the world. That seems smart. It's not sexy but smart. Likely the plan was that Silva would be the aggressor but that didn't work out. So, neither of them was willing to fully commit. As for the knee injury- well- shit happens. Cote didn't do anything on purpose to have this happen. He wanted to continue and the ref told him it was over. You can't do anything about that. He's not a pussy and should deserve more credit for hanging in for the punishment he did take- which was pretty harsh when Silva decided to move in. He did a lot better than James Irvin that's for sure!

It's just entertainment folks.
johnnynormal- October 26, 2008 at 6:13 pm
The people "jumping off the Silva-bandwagon" are the same people who found MMA through TUF or "Professional Wrestling"... fuck them. I've never considered Silva a "class-act" (have you ever seen his victory dance?) he's always been smug and arrogant behind a veil of false courtesy. I feel that Silva just didn't want to underestimate Cote('s chin and strikes) and was trying to provoke him into a mistake while also trying (and failing) to give the fans more of a show. Silva's bicycle knee and kicks were awesome, though maybe he has spent too much time with Machida (:P).
Sonus- October 26, 2008 at 6:09 pm
Appreciate the analysis, Ben. Watching the fight, I never once thought Silva was toying with Cote. His technique was still on display, and the clean shots that landed on Cote were not 'love taps", but shots that would have put others down. With the amount of people who saw the fight as Anderson being arrogant, and perhaps even uninterested, maybe I did miss something. Still, shame on those folks who were quick to jump off the bandwagon, as Silva has more than earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his character/fighting spirit.

Also, maybe the word "mockery" is a bit too harsh from Kevin Iole. Yes, I have a man crush on Silva, but I think he deserves a little more respect to his character than is being shown. He could have made a mistake, but I'm not ready to throw him under the bus yet.
bbo- October 26, 2008 at 6:06 pm
Realfightfan said it best.
mmmiles- October 26, 2008 at 6:06 pm
If Cote hadn't been injured, and had instead gotten KTFO'ed in the 4th, noone would be talking like this.

Why do I think the people making comments against Silva are primarily ex WWE fans?
Markdog- October 26, 2008 at 6:00 pm
If ya'll are sitting next to Silva's website administrator, would setting up an interview with the Spider have been too much to ask for?
natureboy- October 26, 2008 at 5:59 pm
Silva's always been heelish. The dancing after fighting?! And after the fight he told the fans not to boo Cote like he had nothing to do with the ordeal. LOL. And if I recall correctly, after he choked out Hendo he pretty much said in his post fight interview that Rich Franklin was his greatest opponent ever with Hendo still in the cage to get a cheap pop from the Franklin-friendly Ohio crowd. LOL. Of course, you never know with those dodgy translations. Anyway, I think Anderson is even cooler now. I'm glad there's so much more room on this bandwagon. I can stretch out and watch the YouTube video where he gets flying heel hooked by Ryo Chonan. LOL ;)