That’s how long Anderson “The Spider” Silva reigned supreme as the UFC middleweight champion and the pound for pound king of all of MMA. In a sport that has an extraordinary amount of ways to lose, to be champion for nearly seven years is extraordinary. Back when Silva ripped away the title from Rich Franklin at UFC 64 in October of 2006, George W. Bush was still president, Miley Cyrus had just broken through as Hannah Montana and the Seattle Supersonics had yet to move to Oklahoma City.
However, all dynasties must come to an end and Silva’s reign as the king of MMA came crashing down courtesy of a left hook by Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in Las Vegas, NV.
For as dominant as Silva has been, the manner in which he lost will likely be remembered more than the punch that put him down. Facing perhaps the biggest threat to his title reign, Silva treated the undefeated Weidman like a joke. Not as an opponent with the credentials to yank the crown from his head, rather an overmatched foe that he figured he could make a show out of. It’s not as if Silva hasn’t posterized opponents before. His front kick to the face of Vitor Belfort, the Matrix-like dodging of Forrest Griffin punches and a wicked knockout via a knee to the sternum over Stephan Bonnar are a few examples of Silva ending a fight how he wants and whenever he wants.
For him, there is no danger in fighting. It is all showmanship and humiliating your opponent to the highest degree possible. Unfortunately, Chris Weidman wasn’t going for any of that mind game nonsense. Weidman believed in his heart of hearts that he would be the first man in the UFC to defeat Anderson Silva. And that’s exactly what he did.
In front of over 12,000 fans, Anderson Silva strolled to the cage wearing his Nike “Anderson Knows” t-shirt. His larger than life stature seemed to overshadow Weidman and when the fight started it looked as if Silva was going to once again ballet dance through a minefield and come out unscathed. Silva sauntered, mugged, danced, swayed, dipped and laughed at Weidman. None of this is really for show, it’s more about Silva making his calculations and evaluating his opponent. Every feint has a purpose and Silva’s opponents know that they are being sized up by the best that has ever done it. But Weidman knew that wrestling was the Brazilian’s weakness and shot for a double leg takedown and secured it. The Hofstra graduate advanced position, landed some punches and even went for a kneebar. But this is Anderson Silva we are talking about. Any other fighter would have been in danger, Silva looked as if he was toying with his baby brother as he bounced back to his feet with a smile. At that very moment, the blood drained from Weidman’s face as he realized what he was dealing with and there was no way out. However, Weidman kept coming forward despite Silva’s dancing, dipping and dodging. By the time the bell sounded, Silva appeared to be in his opponents head as the champion applauded Weidman’s effort and shot him a gaze that suggested “good try, now it is my turn.”
Weidman appeared to be a different breed of fighter. With Silva hyping up the crowd as the second round started, you could almost see Weidman’s brow furrow in anger. Weidman stepped forward and launched hooks and crosses as Silva giggled at his foe’s attempts. The Spider would cut loose a leg kick as a warning and go back to toying with his foe.
Now here’s where the saying “if you play with fire, you’re going to get burned” comes into play.
Despite Weidman’s advances, Silva kept his arms at his side. Weidman managed to land a left hand that Silva thought it would be cute to feign death. He did a spaghetti leg dance but Weidman was not amused and threw four punches in hopes that something would land. The last one, a sloppily thrown left hook, found its target.
Down went Silva, Weidman swarmed his fallen opponent with wicked punches and that was all she wrote. For the first time in nearly seven years, UFC president Dana White wrapped the belt around someone’s waist other than Anderson Silva. The reign had finally come to an end but the question remained whether Weidman won the title or did Silva lose it.
Was it Silva’s antics that cost him? No matter how good you believe that Chris Weidman is, in the back of our heads we all believe that if Anderson Silva turned it on, Weidman would have been yet another victim. But Silva did what he thought was best. He entertained and clowned until it finally caught up with him. Anderson Silva doesn’t know any other way so perhaps it is only right that the Brazilian went down doing what he does best.
Unfortunately, his best wasn’t good enough and now the era of Chris Weidman has begun.