If Anderson Silva doesn’t care, why should you?: The UFC took one on the chin last weekend.

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Full disclosure here. I love Anderson Silva.

If it’s true that I’m a lifelong fight fan whose interest in the UFC has waned over the years for a variety of reasons I’ve already made known, I still pay close attention to a small handful of MMA fighters, Silva especially. Hey, thing is there are only a few guys who I felt were not only talented enough, but different enough to transcend the UFC’s non-stop cavalcade of tattooed, fauxhawked, moderately athletically gifted fighters who were virtually interchangeable, if not altogether impossible to tell apart.

Silva kind of stands alone in this environment, and not just because he hasn’t lost a fight in over 7 years (Silva sported a 16-0 record in UFC competition) but because he was the rare MMA fighter who actually showed  that rare, one-in-a-million ability to make even the top contenders look like they were hopelessly outclassed. What you have in MMA for the most part is a bunch of fighters who are passable in alot of disciplines or very good in one and not so much in the others. The lack of prime-time athletes explains why a Jon Jones (two of his brothers play in the NFL) could come in and dominate against a field of decidedly ordinary foes but the future of the sport, if nothing else, promises advances in this area as more gifted competitors start to find their way into MMA gyms at a younger age. As of now, the only truly gifted fighters plying their trade in the UFC are Silva, Jones and Georges St. Pierre, with the first two suffering from hardcore fan backlash and the latter having fought just twice in the last 26 months due to a variety of injuries. If the fighting sports are star-driven, the UFC has a scarcity of them these days.

There’s bad news, though.

You see, Silva is just the latest in a mile-long line of genius practitioners and artists who feel as though their pay is not commensurate with their talents. Such is life in an entertainment-cum-sporting venture like the UFC. This is after all a place that values exciting fights over wins and losses and evidenced by the awarding of Championship fights based almost solely on box office potential and the firing of Jon Fitch, a man whose 14-3-1 record is among the greatest in UFC history but whose fights could politely be described as “boring as fuck”.

So, it is in this climate that Silva has become not only sullen and difficult to deal with, but almost completely disdainful of his competition and at times downright childish and disrespectful. If Silva is justified in feeling underpaid, he loses points with his boorish behavior. If he feels that his opponents and compensation are beneath him, he’s still not justified in making a mockery out of his fights or refusing to promote them, and he has done plenty of both in the past.

Finally, it cost him.

Did Chris Weidman, a fast-rising, undefeated prospect, be the one to defeat Silva? Prior to Saturday, it depended on whom you asked? As of now, it’s a point rendered moot after this happened.

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Yes, what you saw in the above GIF is indeed what happened in a highly anticipated Title fight that was likely purchased (at 60$ a pop) by close to half a million people worldwide. Anderson Silva was knocked out while taunting Weidman, much the way an adult would taunt a child in a slap fight.

Bless him, but Silva simply could no longer take his opponent, his sport and his position as champion seriously, and because of that fact he’s been not only defeated for the first time in his UFC career but knocked out in a fashion that goes way past humiliating and into farcical territory.

The “how does this happen?” question is not worth asking here, if only because there is simply no acceptable answer. Judgments, opinions and conspiracy theories aside, (if you doubt the existence of people who are claiming FIX here, you sincerely over-estimate the internet) the plain truth is that a man lost his Championship belt because he refused to take his opponent, the presumed #1 contender, seriously until such a time as it was too late, and in a sport where the “gloves” the fighters wear are almost purely decorative, that’s all it took to put and end to this mess.

Never mind how cheated the paying customers should feel in light of this farce, save of course for the most devout of Silva haters who have been praying for his demise, as tenuous and unsatisfying as it may have been. Never mind how Weidman himself should feel, he who had what should have been his ultimate achievement tarnished by an unwilling, unserious opponent. How the hell does Dana White, the impossibly arrogant, always louder than his fighters UFC president feel after presiding over this farce? What punishment or consequence other than the loss of a fight (and some of his dignity) should Silva be in line for after this showing, or should he see any at all?

Questions for another day.

Something like this should not only never happen, but the idea of it should be thought of as being so preposterous as to only be possible in some shitty Hollywood script. Having seen any and all bad Boxing movies (including “Tough Enough” and “Diggstown” among countless others) I can tell you that this bullshit belonged in one of those goofy ass films, not in a prestigious title fight in the #1 MMA organization in the world. In over 30 years of watching fighting I’ve seen everything from a guy getting knocked out while staring at the ref, to a man having his ear bitten off, to a Heavyweight champion losing because he preferred to walk the ring sobbing instead of trying to beat his opponent. Still, I’d never seen anything like what happened to silva on Saturday night, and I hope I never do again.

Again, I am a big Silva fan, and as long as he wants to fight honestly I’ll want to watch. Still, I’m almost positive that the wrong message will be taken from Saturday night’s result, one centered around Silva’s comeuppance and the perils of arrogance, when the real lesson is as plain as day: If you don’t want to fight, don’t waste your time.

Or ours.

-JH

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