COMMENTARY | All of the signs were there but many of us ignored them when the pound for pound king went down courtesy of a mighty left hook.
A formidable opponent faced a champion who we all were curious as to what would happen when age caught up with him and those cat like reflexes were a nanosecond slower. The champion was the favorite but the odds were closer than they had ever been for one of his fights. People saw the holes in the champ's game, but no fighter had a clue how to actually exploit them because his talent and sheer athletic ability plugged those holes for years. The challenger was determined to dethrone the pound for pound king and wouldn't let the champion's legend intimidate him like it had done to so many others. For the champion, everything seemed to be going according to plan until a left hook connected in the second round and shattered the myth and the legend of...
Roy Jones Jr.
Oh, wait, you thought I was talking about Anderson Silva? No, I'm talking about the man Anderson Silva idolizes and one day wants to fight. The similarities between the two are uncanny to the point that Silva lost in similar fashion to his idol at UFC 162. It is downright eerie.
On May 15, 2004, Roy Jones Jr. faced Antonio Tarver at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. It was a rematch of Jones' majority decision victory over Tarver several months earlier that finally showed some cracks in his game. Most chalked it up to Jones not being motivated to face Tarver after winning the heavyweight championship against John Ruiz in a virtuoso performance. But the reality was that age and having to cut weight after fighting at heavyweight took a toll on the aging Jones' body. In the first round of their rematch, it looked as if Jones would revert back to his old ways and potshot his way to a victory. While sitting on the stool between rounds, Tarver said to his trainer James "Buddy" McGirt: "He doesn't respect me." Tarver then went out and earned his respect.
At the 1:33 mark, Tarver caught Jones with a left hook as Jones pulled his head backwards (a nasty habit that he had been able to get away with thanks to his superior athletic ability) and sent boxing's kingpin crashing in a heap to the canvas. The invincible aura was shattered and Jones' career and legend would tailspin from that point on. His legacy was diminished as Jones would go 7-6 over his next thirteen fights and would be knocked out three more times along the way.
Fast forward nine years to July 7, 2013. At the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas, Anderson Silva was staring across the cage at a formidable opponent in Chris Weidman with his idol sitting Octagonside. Just like Jones, Silva has often relied on cat like reflexes and reaction speed to upend his opponents. And like his idol, Silva often gets into his opponent's heads by mocking them throughout the fight. While some call it disrespectful, it has long been Silva and Jones' way of baiting opponents into a mistake that they could capitalize on. But Weidman, perhaps unbeknownst to him, put on his best Antonio Tarver impression and refused to be intimidated by the man that has often been called the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time.
In the first round, Silva toyed with his foe. He stood flatfooted in front of Weidman and begged to be hit. Weidman, who for weeks stated that he would not succumb to Silva's mind games, seemed to bend a little as he struggled to land and keep Silva down with his exceptional wrestling. When he did land a punch, Silva mocked him and begged for more. Between rounds, UFC President Dana White said Jones popped out of his seat and shouted to White that it was over for Weidman and Silva had gotten into his head. "He said, 'He's done! He's done! He's in his head. This fight's over already. This fight's over right now this round!'" White said of Jones.
Jones was right that the fight was over, just not in the way that he, or anyone else for that matter, anticipated.
Silva was at it again in the second round as he sneered and shouted at Weidman to bring the fight to him. Weidman did and slapped him with a left hand. Silva mocked his opponent but Weidman wouldn't stare in awe as the Brazilian did a spaghetti leg dance. Instead, Weidman launched a four punch combination and Silva, in similar fashion to Jones, pulled his head backwards. However, Weidman stepped in with a left hook and caught Silva on the button. A few follow up punches later and Dana White was wrapping the UFC middleweight title around a new waist for the first time in over six years.
When Jones was knocked out by Tarver, he expressed absolutely no desire to secure a rematch. Instead, he solicited himself for heavyweight fights against Mike Tyson and Vitali Klitschko. But all roads led back to Tarver. Silva did the same exact thing during his post-fight interview as he suggested that there would be no rematch with Chris Weidman and he would instead seek other challenges with one of them likely being against Roy Jones Jr. in a boxing match. But we all know that once Silva gets back to Brazil and realizes what it is like to no longer be champion, Silva-Weidman 2 will eventually come to fruition.
They say that It happens to the best of them. Eventually, all fighters lose and it is just a matter of when. They also said the knockout loss was an aberration rather than the norm for Roy Jones Jr. However, becoming a hair slower turned Roy Jones Jr. from Superman to Clark Kent and he would be a mere mortal for the rest of his career. When you rely so heavily on athletic superiority than fighting fundamentals, once those skills deteriorate ever so slightly, you become regular. Roy Jones Jr.'s chin was suspect because he never had been hit cleanly. He never utilized proper defensive technique, Jones' bobbing, swaying and weaving to make opponents miss would drive any trainer mad. When Jones could no longer make them miss, we saw what happened. And we saw what happened to Anderson Silva at UFC 162.
Will the same thing that happened to Jones for the rest of his career happen to Anderson Silva? Have we been watching reflexes and unique ability of Silva slowly deteriorate and simply not acknowledging it until it was too late? At the age of 38, has Silva finally slowed down enough to where a mere mortal could catch him? There are a lot of questions when it comes to Anderson Silva's future in MMA and if his career trajectory parallels his idol, The Spider's MMA future is not looking good.
So maybe, just maybe, a boxing match between Anderson Silva and Roy Jones Jr. makes more sense now than it ever has.
Andreas Hale is a former editor at websites including BET.com and HipHopDX.com. Today, he resides in the fight capital of the world and has covered boxing and MMA for mainstream media outlets such as MTV.com and Jay-Z's LifeandTimes.com, as well as die-hard outlets including FightNews.com, Fight! Magazine, Ultimate MMA, CagePotato.com and others. You can follow him on Twitter (@AndreasHale).
- Sports & Recreation
- Martial Arts
- Anderson Silva
- Roy Jones Jr
- Antonio Tarver