If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril. Sun Tzu
Hes considered by every MMA outlet, website, and expert to be the greatest fighter of all time. The numbers are astounding: 33-6-0, 20 Knockouts, 6 Submissions, and 7 Decisions. He went unbeaten for seven years and in that time amassed 14 successful defenses of the UFC Middleweight Title. His counter striking and anticipation is the best anyone has ever seen. His knockouts occur in the blink of an eye, his Jiu-Jitsu is like entering a tangled web, and his movement is like water. Hes considered the closest thing to Bruce Lee in competition. Hes a ghost, a ninja, and a soon-to-be legend of the MMA world.
Hes Anderson The Spider Silva and he was coming off the first Knockout loss of his career as he headed into UFC 168.
On July 6th, 2013, I attended the house of a friend-of-a-friend who was ordering UFC 162. My six pack, snacks, and eight dollars allowed me access to a cramped living room of 20-something males who were all big UFC fans. After the pleasantries and introductions, conversation quickly shifted to predictions of Silvas main event bout with Chris Weidman. A showering of praise began to echo through the room with statements such as, Hes so fluid, man, I dont think anyone can beat him, or Hes just so fast, no one can touch him, and Hes my favorite. Hes the reason I started training BJJ downtown. From fan to practitioner, Anderson Silva is the pinnacle.
Then I made the comment, I dont think hes that good. At least, not as good as he should be.
You would have thought I shot a puppy in the middle of the throw rug. The debate quickly became heated. Defeated foes of Silva were named off one at a time, with each fight explained and examined over and over again. An attempt was made to make a point about respect and integrity, but it was all set aside in favor of tallies in the win column and successful title defenses. When I stated, He disrespects the fans and his opponents with the way he acts in the ring, I was met with Its not his fault hes that much better than them. The conversation turned into a losing battle, the same losing battle that Anderson Silva would encounter later that evening.
Silva hit the UFC with a bang in 2006. His first contest was an easy KO victory over Ultimate Fighter Season One star Chris Leben. The impressive win launched Silva into a Middleweight Title shot against accomplished champion Rich Franklin, whom Silva made short work with a first round TKO win. The title defenses that followed were nothing short of magnificent. For the next two years, UFC fans would bear witness to no fighter making it past the second round with Anderson Silva: Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, and James Irvin, all fell into the web. Triangle chokes, Rear-naked chokes, Knockouts, and TKOs littered the proverbial scorecard. The Spider was amassing a resume to rival any legend of the sport.
Then, something happened. After defeating Patrick Cote at UFC 90 (Silva was awarded victory after Cote couldnt continue due to a knee injury), Silva went on to UFC 97 to defend the Middleweight Title against Thales Leites that went to a 5 round decision. Both fights were considered to be lackluster and involved uninspired performances by Silva. The UFC 97 bout especially drew the ire of UFC President Dana White.
The other thing that I didnt like, said White in the post-fight presser, was once he had Leites on his back and was hitting him, he would just stop and stand up again instead of trying to finish the fight.
Silvas fighting style and antics in Montreal that night exuded disinterest, which was met with a chorus of boos from the crowd at the Bell Centre. White noted as well from a company perspective, We run a fight company and when guys dont fight Its like having any other business and a guy doesnt come out and perform at work. In a rather unique situation, an athlete on pace to be one of the greatest of all time was, in theory, purposely not living up to expectations.
(Dana White's UFC 97 comments may be found here & here)
Nick Boisseau is a feature writer and poet, currently existing on the fringe of academia. He holds a B.S. in History and is a graduate of the September 2006 class of Storm Wrestling Academy.