Opinion: Chris Weidman, The Unthinkable and Its Implications
By Jesse Heitz
Last Saturday, July 6th, the MMA world witnessed the unthinkable becoming reality at UFC 162. Anderson “The Spider” Silva, the greatest fighter on the planet, was handed his first loss in the UFC by challenger Chris Weidman. Certainly, some within the MMA universe championed the idea that Weidman could pull off the improbable, but many, including yours truly, were on the opposite side of the spectrum.
The rope-a-dope that dazzled fans and baffled numerous fighters, perhaps most memorably against Forrest Griffin, worked for the first few punches Weidman threw, but a nice left hook landed right on the button. With one swift punch, and a few more follow-up shots on the ground, the champion’s reign came to a crashing end.
Many have complained that Silva’s reliance on upper body movement alone cost him that fight. They argue that when you don’t move your feet, you’re bound to run out of room and get caught. All I can say is that the late great “Smokin’” Joe Frazier would have been appalled. He would have screamed that reeling backwards with your hands at your waist is certain to put your chin in line with an incoming hook.
That being said, I am by no means a Monday morning quarterback, picking apart the technical failings of a fighter. That job I leave to the men and women whose job it is to battle inside of a ring or cage. My focus remains within the non-technical realm. My attention is directed towards demonstrable sloppiness and the apparent lack of desire on the champion’s part.
Many fight fans were confused, and rightfully so, not only by Anderson Silva’s performance, but by his unusual approach to this fight. Prior to the fight, Silva made some particularly strange comments about how his fight with Chris Weidman wouldn’t affect his MMA legacy. Furthermore, that there was little point in partaking in any future superfights with the likes of Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre. Silva quite simply seemed to be checked out before he stepped foot in the Octagon.
Some fans have attributed his loss to some sort of conspiracy, alleging that UFC President, Dana White, engineered such an outcome. This seems a little far-fetched. Perhaps at age 38, and after half a decade of ruling the division, Silva was worn out. That the motivation and drive that fueled his championship run had evaporated. That either he simply didn’t care about maintaining UFC gold anymore, or he simply became overconfident in his own ability and underestimated his opponent.
Whatever his reason for such a horrendous showing was, it’s exceptionally disappointing. Chris Weidman had to take a year off for this fight, which meant lost opportunities to put food on the table, yet he came prepared and ready to throw some leather. He deserved a game adversary. The greatest upset in MMA history should not be tarnished by the complacency of the champion.
Despite post-fight comments to the contrary, it appears that a rematch between Silva and Weidman is in the works. Let’s hope that Silva comes prepared to fight and gives Weidman the fight he deserves.