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UFC 108 Excusewatch: Thiago Silva’s Bad Back

Thiago Silva Rashad Evans UFC 108
(Photo courtesy of MMA Weekly.)

About two weeks before Thiago Silva‘s UFC 108 showdown with Rashad Evans, rumors began popping up that Silva had suffered an ankle injury in training, and the UFC was paying him extra money to stay on the cursed card and save the main event. Silva’s manager, Alex Davis, immediately set the story straight with MMA Junkie, saying "That report is completely false. Thiago is 100 percent and he’s busy preparing for this fight. Not only has the UFC not paid any extra money for Thiago to fight through an injury, but to the contrary, in my 10 years of dealing with the UFC, (matchmaker) Joe Silva and the staff have always said it’s better to pull out of a fight if you’re hurt rather than lose a fight because you’re injured."

But now that Silva lost his fight, Davis has come back to say that "100 percent" might have been overstating the case:

"The rumor came out that it was an ankle injury," Davis said. "Actually, it was not an ankle injury; it was a back injury. What happened is that Thiago had a choice. His back was hurt, and he could not wrestle. He could not do takedown defense. He could not practice the exact thing that he needed most against Rashad. But we know the problems with the UFC. We could see everything that was happening, and we made the decision to take this fight and stay with it regardless of the fact that he wasn’t able to come in in top shape for that kind of fight."

"American Top Team is a big team," Davis said. "You’ve got all these people around there, and all of a sudden you see Thiago Silva not taking part in normal practice. It gets out. I think that’s pretty normal. (But) I’m not going to go and give (Evans’ coach) Greg Jackson the advantage of knowing that my guy isn’t in top shape. I’m not going to leave him comfortable…
"Personally, due to the difference in the level of Rashad’s wrestling, I don’t think that in the takedown department, [being at 100 percent] would have made that much of a difference," Davis said. "People don’t care, really, but the truth is the truth. This kid came in and he wasn’t in top shape because of an injury, and he still took a very tough fight. He went at it, and he survived for those two rounds."

Of course, this raises the familiar rebuttal that no fighter is ever 100% when they step into the cage. When you lose a fight, those nagging injuries can be an easy scapegoat for why things didn’t go your way, and if you’re healthy enough to go three rounds with Rashad Evans while appearing perfectly normal to the outside observer, you’re probably healthy enough not to have your manager make excuses after the fight. Would a few more sessions of takedown defense practice have won Silva the fight on Saturday? Probably not. A killer instinct in round three might have helped, though. As it so happens, Davis has an explanation for that, too:

"The whole time, we were telling him to be patient with Rashad – not try to go in on Rashad and attack Rashad, which would have given Rashad the takedown opportunities," Davis said. "What happened there is the moment that he shouldn’t have been cautious, he listened to us, and he stayed cautious. He was worried that he would go in for the knockout too hungrily and got countered with that overhand of Rashad’s. That was what went through Thiago’s head at that moment…I think Thiago is still developing a lot as a fighter. He used to be a very instinctive fighter. Now he’s starting to be more of a conscious fighter…For us that were outside the fight, we knew that if [Silva] went in there for the kill, he probably would have gotten it," Davis said. "But it’s not easy when you’re inside there."

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Barc- January 5, 2010 at 10:55 am
I respectfully disagree with the stoppage part. The first punch didn't knock him out. If you've ever trained boxing, you'll agree that shots behind the ear don't finish you, it just shakes your equilibrium and the ground starts to dance under your feet. In just a second or two, it comes back. I see that this was the case with McLovin. Had Daley not finished up with that hard shot, that fight would have continued.

I don't think that it matters whether Thiago's back was injured. The guy is a monster. I think that it's just because he's not used to losing that he even mentioned it. It happens to everyone, and he'll come back stronger and shake it off.
Get Off Me- January 5, 2010 at 10:28 am
What irked me most about Daley was that he pulled the gun gimmick afterwards....Apologizing immeadiately was alright, but this guy agreed to a catch weight, he could have said no(might not have helped Haze's career but he could have been like no, it's happened before) instead he agrees to fight and that's the respect he is given from Daley in return, not impressed.
I agree with the subsequent blows after a death blow has been two cents is to equip the referee with a whistle, Haze would have only taken two shots at most and I don't think anyone would mind not seeing the rest. I know the sport is fast and it's hard to "pull a fighter away" immeadiately and for the most part(lavigne and mazzagatti excluded) the refs do a fairly good job protecting the fighters, but it must be hard to always be in position, I think a whistle would save some of these fighters in the future.
Organ Donor- January 5, 2010 at 10:27 am
@bens: where's my t-shirt, bitches?
BackbaconBilly- January 5, 2010 at 10:06 am
@ Organ Donor.... lets make it 3 in a row, good comments
ihateemo- January 5, 2010 at 9:41 am
@Organ Donor:

"(on top of missing weight)."

And let's not forget that Anthony Johnson was passed over for KO of the night for that exact reason.
macreadysshack- January 5, 2010 at 9:25 am
@ Organ Donor

Wow. Nice thoughts all around!
clutchy hopkins- January 5, 2010 at 8:25 am
i would like to see a highlight clip from that fight of rashads fist actually touching thiagos chin/face not sure if i seen it
One Two- January 5, 2010 at 8:05 am
I wondered how Rashad won.
SiDeBuRnZ- January 5, 2010 at 8:03 am

oops sorry got it mixed up... 108 is the magic number in the world of Lost:

add in your ht tp and triple w's
portland mma- January 5, 2010 at 7:45 am
That manager sounds like a genius.

"For us that were outside the fight, we knew that if [Silva] went in there for the kill, he probably would have gotten it"

We knew and probably huh? If I was a fighters manager and I knew he could knock the guy out I'd definitely settle for a unanimous decision loss too.
Organ Donor- January 5, 2010 at 7:20 am
by saying that Thiago wouldn't have been able to stop the takedowns anyway and stuff Davis is simply broadcasting "I'm not making excuses." This way, he can make his excuses without appearing to be making excuses. It's a common technique often employed passive-aggressively, as in: "that was lame but whatever."

Meanwhile, the seed has been planted, and we're left wondering how much better his cardio would have been if he'd been able to train harder, whether he didn't try to finish Rashad because it hurt his back to bend over, etc.

What's been sticking in my mind this morning is how lame Paul Daly is for following up so hard on Hazlett after he was out. Yeah yeah, you fight til the ref pulls you off, blah blah blah. But the first strike probably isn't what sent him to the hospital with a blown out optical orbital nasal whatchamacallit. It was those subsequent punches. to reward him for that is doubly-wrong (on top of missing weight). I'd like to see more displays of class like Marquart did against Maia. And having that be a factor in knockout of the night, especially when you could have made a case for another, makes sense to me.
BackbaconBilly- January 5, 2010 at 7:10 am
None of these guys has the balls to just man up and say they were beat, always an excuse.
manutdfan- January 5, 2010 at 7:04 am
Sideburnz: It was flight 815, not 108. And Lost is the best show on tv, in my opinion.

As for the 'excuses', ATT still say he would not have been able to stop the takedowns, so who cares?
skeletor- January 5, 2010 at 7:03 am
At least he admitted that it probably wouldn't have made a difference since Rashad is that much better of a wrestler. He was just addressing the rumors from before the fight.
UFC fan- January 5, 2010 at 7:01 am
Hey Thiago, you want some cheese with that WHINE?
SiDeBuRnZ- January 5, 2010 at 6:49 am
Why is it called excusewatch when you documented all the "curses" leading up to 108?? So the rest of the fighters are under excusewatch too??

BTW 108 is the same flight number as the plane that went down in Lost. Just sayin'

P.S. Lost sucks.
Jugger- January 5, 2010 at 6:36 am
Is the general consensus that a trainer should be honest about his fighters injuries before the fight (thus giving his opponent the advantage)? And then dishonest about them after the fight (because real men, like Don Frye, don't talk about past injuries)?

To me, it actually seems like this Davis fellow has his head on pretty straight.

Squirrelnuts- January 5, 2010 at 6:33 am
only one?
agentsmith- January 5, 2010 at 6:25 am
Tito Ortiz had a cracked skull, you guys.
busted_cranium- January 5, 2010 at 6:20 am
Looks like they've been reading The Art of the Bullshit, by Tito "Fivehead" Ortiz.
ksgbobo- January 5, 2010 at 6:17 am
Why is it that the effing Brazilians always have some sort of excuse after the fight they lost? Stop your bitching...sounds like some other people.