LAS VEGAS – A magnificent, unparalleled title reign ended in disgrace Saturday, as Anderson Silva embarrassed himself and disrespected the sport that made him rich and famous in a second-round knockout loss to Chris Weidman.
It wasn't that he got knocked out, but how, that was so distasteful.
For all of Silva's greatness – and it should be said here that the loss in the main event of UFC 162 before 12,399 at the MGM Grand Garden does nothing to diminish that – he's always been different than the vast majority of his peers.
He kept his hands at his side repeatedly in Saturday's bout, urging Weidman to hit him. Several times, he banged his own fist on his chin and shouted at Weidman to fight. A few times, he put his hands on his hips, stood flat-footed and sneered at his unbeaten challenger.
UFC president Dana White was enraged by his performance at UFC 110 in Abu Dhabi, when Silva kept his hands at his side and taunted Demian Maia in a similar manner.
But after the UFC crowned a new middleweight champion for the first time since Oct. 14, 2006, when Silva knocked out Rich Franklin, White had nothing but praise for Silva.
Many angry fans took to social media to accuse Silva of throwing the fight, a ludicrous notion. White dealt with that aggressively, saying, "That's the stupidest [expletive] thing I've heard in my life."
Then asked if he felt Silva disrespected Weidman or the UFC of the fans who paid up to $1,200 for a seat, White again was aggressive and passionate in his defense of his deposed champion.
"Fans came here to see a fight and they saw a great fight tonight," White said defiantly. "Was it disrespectful? I don't know. This is fighting. How do you disrespect someone in a fight? I'm going to punch you in the face, try to knock you out and try to take your leg off.
"If I grab your arm, I'm going to take that off. I'm going to strangle you if I get your neck. But I don't want to disrespect you? And you know, I think what Weidman did to him was pretty damn disrespectful, too."
Silva taunted Weidman throughout the fight, clearly trying to draw the former All-American wrestler at Hofstra into a striking match. Weidman didn't do much in the first round and there was a sense as he walked to his corner at the end of the first that Silva's mind games were having an impact.
But when Silva did it in the second, it cost him his title and ended his UFC-record unbeaten streak at 16 fights.
Silva effectively dodged several punches, but he couldn't dodge the last, a crushing left hook that landed square on the butt of Silva's chin. He was down and out quickly, and referee Herb Dean stopped it at 1:18.
Weidman said afterward in the Octagon that he "was pissed off," by Silva's antics, but took a more understanding tone at the post-fight news conference.
"I didn't see him as being cocky; I saw it as him trying to mentally defeat [me] in there," Weidman said at the news conference. "That's just part of the warfare. He's trying to defeat you. It's like any other style. It works for him. I tried to not let it get into my head. I was like, 'I'm going to keep walking forward, walking forward, throwing my punches.' Then it got to a point where he was doing it and I was like, 'Screw this. I'm hitting him.' "
And hit him he did, ending Silva's hard-to-believe reign. There are no mixed martial arts fighters who pile up 30, 40, 50 or more wins in a row without a loss, as some top boxers do, because there are so many more ways to lose in MMA – it's difficult to win six in a row, let alone 16.
But it would have been better had Silva gone out fighting, trying to knock Weidman out, rather than with his hands at his side while playing mind games.
The loss does nothing to diminish Silva's legacy, and it's ludicrous to even suggest it does.
But it sure left a bad taste in the mouth of those who wanted to see the greatest fighter ever perform and wound up getting far less than his best.
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