Fight fans were shocked last night as a relatively inexperienced kid from Long Island, NY named Chris Weidman dethroned the UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, whose reign has lasted nearly 7 years. I was among those who thought that Weidman didn’t deserve a title shot. Not because he wasn’t good enough, but because he didn’t fight his way to the top. He had only fought five times in the UFC prior to last night and never top tier opponents.
Mark Munoz was his biggest fight, and while I like Munoz, he’s still a second-level middleweight. For Weidman to challenge for a title I would have liked to have seen him go through Michael Bisping and Chael Sonnen at the very least. Beat them and then you can say you’ve earned it. But Weidman talked his way into this fight and the UFC did everything they could to convince us that he had a shot.
Count me among the unconvinced. I looked at Weidman’s skill set and thought that he was a good young fighter. But Anderson Silva was a great veteran; the greatest mixed martial artist the world has ever known. Laser precision with his kicks and punches; high level black belt jiu jitsu; good defense off his back to supplement his lack of wrestling prowess; and an ability to roll with the punches that has led many to believe that his chin was a little tougher than it actually is.
So I thought that Silva would go in there and beat Weidman quickly—and he could have!—but he chose to go another way, which we’ve seen before. Over three years ago I wrote the following after Silva’s fight with Damian Maia:
As far as the Silva fight goes I lost some respect for the champ. He spent the first two rounds clowning around just to show that he’s a superior fighter. It was pride incarnate and not pleasant to watch. After that he just shut down and stopped fighting. I started rooting for Demian Maia in the fourth round because he was there to do his job and he did it to the best of his ability which unfortunately wasn’t good enough. Silva definitely didn’t gain any fans with this fight and it’s one of the only times I’ve agreed with the crowd booing.
The same way that Silva played with Maia is the way that he played with Weidman, but with drastically different results. Silva’s prideful display of perceived invincibility got him caught with a hard left hook that ultimately led to his being knocked unconscious. It was shocking but not totally unexpected. Proverbs 16:18 so eloquently states that “pride goes before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.” MMA fans saw exactly that last night.
Do I think that Silva could have beaten Weidman had he fought seriously rather than disrespected and underestimated his opponent? Without question. And I think when they fight again Silva will make quick work of Weidman, knowing full well that playing with him won’t work. But kudos to Weidman for capitalizing on Silva’s mistakes; let me just commend the new champ for staying humble in victory. He gave the credit to God knowing that he couldn’t have done it on his own. Amen to that!
Some folks are already calling this the end of an era and preparing for the reign of the new champ. I think it’s just a speed bump on Silva’s road back to champion status but God willing it will be the end of his era of cocky, arrogant, prideful, unsportsmanlike shenanigans. May God grant him humility in defeat.