(“No, I am not kidding you.” PicProps: YahooSports)
Well, the last few seconds were outstanding. Most of the rest of the televised portion of UFC 126 was extremely middle-of-the-road, but in the end no hyperbole was needed: Anderson Silva – that magnificent bastard — front kicked Vitor Belfort in the face and knocked him out. No, we’ve never, ever seen anything like it before and probably never, ever will again. It was, in a word, awesome and underscored why (no matter how lackluster the rest of a UFC PPV seems) you absolutely must watch until the bitter end. Just in case something amazing happens. Because sometimes it does. So amazing in fact that all across the country on Saturday night, aging karate masters and mail-order blackbelts jumped out of their seats and shouted, “See? I told you that shit worked!”
As for the rest of us, our abusive relationship with the UFC middleweight champion goes on. Let’s be honest here, through the first three minutes, 20 seconds, it appeared as if Silva and Belfort were conspiring to make Dana White’s nightmare of “the worst staring contest in the history of mankind” come true. Silva came out and circled, and shucked, and even did some stupid dancing just like he did against Demian Maia last April. The initial physical contact of the fight didn’t come until 1:40 into the first, when Belfort nicked Silva with a leg kick. Then, just as the grim reality of his suckiness started to set in all over again – just as we started to think of all the other things we could’ve spent that $50 on – boom, front kick to the face. Game over. And we love him again.
Yet it would be a mistake, we think, to let the unbelievable nature of that knockout obscure the fact that for better and worse Anderson Silva is a total crazyperson who is capable of absolutely anything. We saw what he did at the weigh-ins, right? We saw that on fight night he had Steven Seagal galumphing around ringside wearing frickin’ shooting glasses looking – as a friend of ours noted — like some kind of off-brand Walter Sobchak. We saw that once the fight was over he immediately wanted to be bros with Belfort again, offering him a hug while Vitor was still prone on the canvas, staring up at Silva like, “Mom, is that you?” We saw the postfight interview where Joe Rogan asked him one simple question and Silva proceeded to ramble on in Portuguese for what seemed like an hour and a half.
How do you even begin to judge a guy like this? A guy whose fights always have equal potential to be amazing and/or painstaking? If you’re the UFC, you ignore all the negatives and loudly trumpet him the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and the undisputed GOAT. Right now that seems hard to argue with.
But sitting here today if also feels like – and forgive us for saying this – maybe Chael Sonnen was right. Maybe it’s not so much Anderson Silva that makes fights great, but the quality of his opponents. Give him somebody he feels excited about fighting, he might do something exciting. Give him somebody underwhelming, he’ll underwhelm. And boy, what does that say for further middleweight bouts with guys like Yushin Okami or Nate Marquardt or Michael Bisping? Potentially bad things, man.
I guess what we’re trying to say is: Short of a Sonnen rematch, it’s time for the Georges St. Pierre fight. Or it’s time for Silva to start taking on contenders at light heavyweight. From here on out there don’t seem to be a ton of challenges for him to get excited about at 185-pounds and when Anderson Silva’s not excited, neither are we.
And for Belfort? Well, the UFC went out of its way to promote him as the most dangerous standup threat of Silva’s career and he ended up suffering a knockout that will be replayed on highlight reels and clip shows for the rest of his life. So that kind of sucks for him. Not really his fault, though. Just goes to show: You can expect Jesus, bro, every day, but nobody – and we mean nobody – expects a front kick to the face.