The big question going into last Saturday evening’s bout was the legitimacy of Chris Weidman. Is he hope or is he hype? Despite knocking out Anderson Silva, the now-former middleweight champion of the world, we still don’t have the answer to that question. It’s an odd situation to assess considering the dramatic results of UFC 162.
Going into the bout, Chris Weidman was coming off a year layoff due to injury and was dealing with the stress of his home being severely damaged during Hurricane Sandy. The UFC went with the unprecedented move of promoting the fight around the notion that the fighters were picking Weidman to win since fans and journalists weren’t giving him much of a chance.
Anderson Silva kept his hands down and clowned around in a manner that showed zero respect for Chris Weidman. This is something Silva has done time and time again and we tend to marvel at his brilliance with each victory. This time around, he gets knocked out and we are dumbfounded by his futility. It is poetic that Silva’s reign ended while he mocked Weidman more than any other opponent.
There are a wide array of opinions surrounding the result and there are too many to break down so I’m just going to throw in my two cents. As a professional fighter, i.e., this is what you do for a living, it is your job to train and perform at your best. If you lose because you didn’t take your opponent seriously, you know, the guy who has trained relentlessly with the sole purpose of knocking your block off, you deserve to lose just as much as if you lost while fighting at your best and the victor deserves all of the spoils that comes with such a conquest.
Professional sport lends itself to uncanny criticism which sometimes overshadows the merit athletic accomplishment. There are those who praise Weidman’s triumph while affirming their belief that Anderson Silva is still the superior fighter. Prizefighting isn’t about who would win ninety-nine times out of one hundred. It’s about who is the best on a particular evening.
Fans all over the world paid their hard-earned money to watch the best fight the best but Anderson Silva, who is considered to be the greatest of all time, did not fight as his reputation proceeds. Even if Silva obliterates Weidman in the mega-money rematch that he claims he won’t accept, it takes absolutely nothing away from what Chris Weidman accomplished on Saturday night.
Even if there is still some doubt that Chris Weidman didn’t beat the best incarnation of Anderson Silva then I have a counterpoint to throw into the discussion. Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar, two newly enshrined hall of famers who didn’t even come close to negating Silva’s flamboyant bobbing and weaving methodology. The cage can be a cruel place and the irony of this defeat will be the glaring oddity on Silva’s resume while serving as the most profound victory for Chris Weidman that Scorsese couldn’t have written any better.