For almost seven years, Anderson “The Spider” Silva held on to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight title. Aside from his UFC 117 encounter against Chael Sonnen, Silva has barely even looked human inside the Octagon, defeating most of his opponents in devastating fashion.
All that came to an end on Saturday at UFC 162 against Chris “The All-American” Weidman.
Weidman scored his first – and only – takedown early in the first round of their encounter, and he managed to land some decent shots while Anderson was grounded. However, once again, Silva’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu proved to be enough to keep him safe on the ground, and he fought his way back to his feet.
Standing up, Silva was clearly the better fighter, seemingly landing shots at will while repeatedly dropping his hands, egging Weidman to engage.
Silva continued to clown Weidman during the second round, and it looked like Spider was on his way to another impressive victory. However, it was Weidman who left the MMA world in awe, catching Silva with a left hook while his hands where down. The All-American followed up with a few more punches on the ground, but all that was academic as Silva was clearly not getting back up.
Even though Weidman had a decent number of supporters heading into UFC 162, most backers saw him winning via submission or decision. Few expected him to do the unthinkable and knock out Silva while standing.
With the win, Weidman snagged the UFC’s middleweight title, and regardless of what happens with his career in the future, he’ll forever be immortalized as the man who ended the reign of the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t the way many envisioned Silva’s reign ending as his excessive showboating clearly paved Weidman’s road to victory. If the two met again in the future for a rematch, smart money would still be on Silva.
Silva didn’t seem particularly upset by the loss afterwards and that’s not really surprising. After all, his legacy as a mixed martial artist is already secure thanks to his numerous UFC records like his 16 consecutive wins inside the Octagon, 10 consecutive successful title defenses, and many memorable finishes.
UFC president Dana White said it best during the post-fight press conference.
“What does it do to his legacy? Nothing,” White responded to a reporter’s question. “The guy’s had the longest win streak. The guy has been an amazing fighter. This is one of those moments when a guy goes on a run like Anderson Silva has gone, and all the creeps and the weirdos come out of the woodwork and start talking [expletive] about how ‘Oh look, he wasn’t that great.’ What he’s done is amazing; nobody has ever done what this man has done. Nobody has ever done it the way that he has done it. This doesn’t do anything to his legacy. … Anybody can get caught on any given night, even Anderson Silva.”
For years, Anderson has given a lot to the MMA community, so it’s only fitting that his first loss in the Ultimate Fighting Championship will serve as a cautionary tale to aspiring champions. Silva didn’t lose at UFC 162 because Weidman was the superior fighter, he lost because he underestimated Weidman’s abilities, and it ended up costing him the fight. Fans shouldn’t criticize Silva’s showboating, since his willingness to take risks inside the Octagon is was what has made him great in the first place.
Anderson’s fight against Forrest Griffin is the perfect example as the TKO victory wouldn’t have been the same if Silva didn’t have both hands down while dodging punches Matrix-style, seconds before putting “The Ultimate Fighter” season one winner away with a jab.
Silva, 38, seemed like he was about done with MMA after the loss, and given his age, that’s probably a good thing. The perfect scenario for Silva: He comes back and defeats Weidman in a rematch, then announces his retirement afterwards, handing the belt back to Weidman.
Mixed martial arts legends have a tendency to stick around longer than they probably should have – Fedor Emelianenko, Royce Gracie, and Randy Couture come to mind. It’s about time MMA fans get a happy ending.