Fact Check: Did Demian Maia Disrespect Anderson Silva?

The unsatisfying post-fight explanation has become something of a tradition for UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva. After putting on performances that are either bizarre, boring, or both, he inevitably ends up at the press conference after the event, trying to explain through his manager/translator, Ed Soares, why he just forced us to sit through another fight that featured only occasional bursts of offense among extended periods of posturing and playing.

After a decision win over Demian Maia at UFC 112 that saw Silva essentially stop fighting altogether in the final two rounds, the story went that he was trying to punish Maia for his “disrespect.” In the lunchtime video interview above, Soares repeats that claim, insisting that Maia “talked a lot of crap before the fight, and said a lot of things personally about Anderson.” Because of such an unprecedented show of disrespect – who ever heard of talking trash about an opponent before a fight, after all? – Silva got emotional and “wanted to make him pay.”

Here’s where we could ask why making Maia pay didn’t include any sustained attempts to knock him out at any point during the fight. We could also ask how spending the final two rounds running in circles was supposed to make Maia suffer. But we won’t. Instead we’ll ask, how exactly did Maia disrespect Silva before the fight?

Here’s one pre-fight interview where Maia describes the champ as “the best fighter in the world” as well as “the most complete fighter in the world.” Even when Maia says that Silva can be defeated, his reasoning seems predicated solely on the fact that, at least as far as we know, Silva is a human being. Unless Silva can produce some DNA tests that will refute that claim, he can’t really get too pissed off about that statement.

Additionally, in a story on UFC.com Maia said of Silva:

“What can I say, he’s the best fighter in the world, pound for pound. He’s good in everything that he does, and so far it’s the biggest challenge of my life.”

Oh, the insolence of this guy.

What seems to have irked Silva more, however, was Maia’s pre-fight remark about trying to take one of “The Spider’s” eight limbs home with him. This obviously wasn’t intended as a literal prediction by Maia, who presumably knows that Silva isn’t an actual spider any more than Keith Jardine is an actual dean at the prestigious Mean University, but rather it was a bit of word play expressly for the purposes of the pre-fight hype reel.

What’s more, as pre-fight trash talk goes it’s incredibly tame. When Dan Henderson said that Silva was not the best fighter in the world prior to their match-up at UFC 82, Silva didn’t respond by trying to humiliate him over the course of five rounds. Instead he put him away in two. When James Irvin cast doubts on Silva’s punching power, he was repaid with a quick knockout finish. So what unforgivable trash talk sin did Maia commit that could possibly justify the taunting and the mockery that we saw on Saturday?

We can probably find our answer in the inconsistency of Silva’s post-fight remarks. First, in the Octagon with Joe Rogan, he said he didn’t know what came over him. Just a few minutes later in the post-fight presser, he had figured out that what came over him was rage at Maia’s “disrespect.” Funny how quickly he put that together.

The more we see this kind of behavior from Silva, the more we have to consider that something in his mind just isn’t working right. If he can really see disrespect in Maia’s lukewarm trash talk, and if he really thinks what he did in Abu Dhabi was a suitable response, then this is not a man with his feet planted firmly on the ground. Maybe the culprit isn’t all the trash talk, but rather the praise. Maybe you can only hear about how great you are for so long before it starts to go to your head. Maybe that’s when you become an intolerable jerk who is completely disconnected from reality.