With his second round knockout of Anderson Silva at UFC 162, Chris Weidman, forever linked himself with the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, picking up the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s middleweight title in the process.
Unfortunately for “The All-American,” despite his historic performance at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on July 6, the MMA world is fixated on how Silva lost the fight rather than his accomplishment.
There’s a pretty good reason for that.
Weidman got off to a good start at UFC 162, putting Silva on his back early in the first round, landing several hard shots. But the momentum switched over to Anderson when he fought his way back up with two minutes left in the round.
Standing up, Silva landed shots at will, and it was rather clear he’s a few levels ahead of Weidman when it comes to the striking game. Silva seemed to realize that as well, as he vehemently displayed disdain for Weidman’s striking ability, repeatedly dropping his hands while weaving through combinations, ruthlessly taunting the challenger.
Silva, who is a counter-striker, is well known for drawing opponents closer with his low guard and other antics inside the cage, but he seemed to overdo things a bit at UFC 162. Then again, one can easily make an argument that Silva has overdone things multiple times in the past; his opponents just weren’t able to make him pay.
Chris Weidman sure made him pay though.
It’s hard to say if it was a simple miscalculation or slowing reflexes due to age, but Weidman eventually found his mark with a left hook, bringing the 38 year-old Silva’s 16-fight win-streak to an end.
UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre, who predicted Weidman would win, broke things down for fans.
“I think Silva is still the best in the world, but he just got caught,” St. Pierre said during a recent interview. “The thing that Silva does: he’s very good at getting into his opponent’s mind. I don’t think it’s much of a lack of respect. I think it’s more that he tries to get into his opponent’s mind and play mind-games with his opponent. That almost worked, it almost worked that time but he got caught. It doesn’t mean that it was not a good strategy for him, maybe he should not have done it that much, but he just got caught.”
So how much credit does Weidman deserve for his performance?
Well, a lot. While Anderson’s critics will undoubtedly spend the next few weeks linking the end of his undefeated streak to “arrogance” or what not, pride didn’t have anything to do with how things went down at UFC 162.
The reality is: Silva has dropped his hands in pretty much all his fights, especially the ones which end with spectacular knockouts, thus, it’s a bit insincere to blame him for the very same thing that elevated him to the top of MMA’s pound-for-pound rankings.
Weidman was simply the first man to effectively penetrate Silva’s virtually impregnable defense.
Others have been close in the past, but they just didn’t have enough pop in their punches to get the job done against “The Spider.” Chael Sonnen dropped Silva a few times during their 2010 tilt, and Stephan Bonnar landed a few clean shots at UFC 153 when the Brazilian was doing his thing against the cage.
Weidman didn’t just get past Silva’s defense at UFC 162; he did so with enough power to put the long-time middleweight champion away. It was a calculated risk that could have easily ended badly for Weidman if Silva managed to evade the fight-ending hook, so the UFC’s new middleweight champion deserves all the credit in the world for believing in his abilities and executing without fear.