For the first time in seven years, the UFC Middleweight Belt was strapped around the waist of a man not named Anderson Silva (Photo by Dave Mandel, Sherdog.com).
Written by Chris Cox (@CoxFight), Contributing Writer
What I am about to write still has me in shock. I am listening to a press conference that many did not think would happen for a long time. Tonight, I sat in a standing room only bar of many people looking for another destruction ritual by a man that many of us have referred to as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. 16 times I have watched Anderson Silva walk in and frustrate opponent after opponent. July 6th became the night this would all change.
Chris Weidman walked into the Octagon at UFC 162 with pure confidence and did all that he said he would do. He came right in and took Silva to the ground as quickly as he possibly could. This is where we expected the fight to stay, but, after some good Jiu-Jitsu work, we had the fight back on its feet. From there Silva did what he does best. Stick and move. Humiliate you. Make you disregard your game plan and fall into his web. It appeared to be working in the first round, and crowds everywhere knew what was going to be soon coming.
In the second round, Silva came out and turned up his showboating to a whole new level, more than I have ever seen before. He even attempted to add a little Ali into his act. Look, I understand his game and how he frustrates his opponents, but it does start to come off very disrespectful and way too cocky. At the same time, look at what he has accomplished in the sport. At 38-years-old, he is still labeled as one of the most dangerous men on the planet.
As Silva continued to constantly sway and dodge the attack in front of him, Weidman kept moving forward and forward. Then BAM, a left hand that will be remembered for years landed square on the chin of Silva and sent him to the mat. Several shots to the face later, and the eyes of the Spider are all white and rolled into the back of his skull. That was it. His seven-year run as champion was over.
Putting this into words has actually made it seem a little bit more real to me. If you read my preview article for this fight, you will see that I choose Silva. It was just hard to bet against him after all he has done. In a very instant, we watched two records come to a close, and a whole new chapter opened up in the world of MMA. Silva has been very cryptic on what is next and if he even wants a rematch with Weidman. I mean, a huge underdog just laid out the guy, so he is probably in just as much shock as us. Regardless, he says he is done fighting for the belt.
Does this mean he doesn’t want title fights anymore? Super fights were all taken off of the table with this loss, so he cannot call out GSP or Jon Jones now. Either way, it is going to be interesting to see what happens with Silva, especially since he still has another 10 fights left on his UFC contract.
Despite what happened, I do not think Silva’s career is in any way diminished by this loss. Yes, I understand as well as most people do, that what he did was considered “clowning,” but it is what the guy does. If he had continued to do it and won, we would have said he is an artist of the game.
If Silva really is not going to take up this automatic rematch, what does it mean for the middleweight division? I would expect that Vitor Belfort would get the first crack at the new champ. He has racked up four finishes in the middleweight division recently, and I am pretty sure that he is blowing up Dana White’s phone like a 16-year-old teenager who thinks her boyfriend is cheating.
If not Belfort, then there is a hungry Ronaldo Souza, who is looking to add UFC gold to his former Strikeforce championship. There is still a dangerous Michael Bisping lurking in those waters as well.
While this loss is still a shock, it does bring some light to the division. Not just light, but more hope. Many fighters were viewed as simply being another lamb to the slaughter when it came to fighting Silva. Just as Weidman’s coach Matt Serra proved at UFC 69, a champion can fall with a single punch. It happened to GSP, and now to Silva. I also feel that, just like with GSP, you could see an even more dangerous Silva come to the cage when he makes his return.
Twitter is still going a little bit nuts right now, questioning if maybe Silva took a dive. The fact is that there is really no good payout for doing that. When you do as much as you have for the company like Silva has done, your contract has different terms. You do not get a win bonus. The reason behind that is you get a cut of the PPV buys. A super fight equals major PPV buys, so losing this fight does not lead him in any way towards a better payoff.
I realize it is hard to accept for some people, but we have now entered the next chapter in the history of the UFC’s middleweight division. Over the next couple of days and weeks, the dust will settle on all of this, and we will get some sort of idea as to what is next. While it is a bit of a disappointment that the super fights are seemingly off the table now, there is always a chance for more upsets, as was the case at UFC 162.
This is only the halfway point of the year. We still have six more months and six different title fights between now and October. Buckle up.