We watched in horror or have at least seen the footage on Sportscenter of the main event of UFC 168. The main event pitted Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva in a title rematch against Chris Weidman. In July, Weidman did the impossible, defeating the Spider for the Middleweight championship. Now, the long-awaited rematch had finally arrived.
Fast forward to the second round where Silva found himself down a round, after Weidman controlled the action throughout the first. Unlike the first fight, Silva did not go into his tried and tested antics of sticking his chin out and daring his opponent to hit him. Silva tried that in the first fight and Weidman knocked him unconscious. Silva jabbed, used his footwork to stay out of striking distance. Midway into the round, Silva threw a left kick at ¬†Weidman’s thigh. Weidman raised his knee to block the kick.
And the course of the UFC changed forever.
Weidman’s block broke Silva’s leg in two places. The images of his now broken leg curving underneath Weidman’s thigh will be forever remembered by those who saw it. Silva shrieked in pain and crumpled to the ground. The referee, Herb Dean, stopped the fight immediately. Weidman retained his Middleweight title under uncharacteristic fashion. The first fight was seen as a fluke. Silva had been using his Rope-A-Dope, showboating tactics for a while and no fighter had been able to solve it until Weidman did in July. This was the fight to solidify himself as the best middleweight in the world. Again, he was cheated out of a satisfying finish.
Silva is widely viewed as the greatest fighter ever to step into the octagon. He debuted seven years ago against Chris Leben, fresh off his stint on the first season of The Ultimate Fighter. Leben was a huge favorite, known for his knockout power and reckless fighting style. Silva counterpunched and used his speed to deliver a fantastic TKO finish. In his second fight, he fought the UFC Middleweight champion, Rich Franklin. Silva dominated Franklin, won the belt and has had that title in his trophy case ever since.
Until Weidman, Silva had gone 18-0 inside the octagon, beating every ‘next big thing’ to come along with relative ease. Now, Silva has lost two straight title fights to Weidman.
After the fight, Silva went straight into surgery and had a titanium rod placed in his leg. The rod will be there for the rest of his life. It is time for The Spider to retire. At this point, there is nothing left to fight for. Reports say he should be able to start training again in six months, but fight to do what? Now that Silva has lost two straight to Weidman, there will be no trilogy fight. Silva would have to sit on the sideline and wait for Weidman to lose. Silva had cleaned out the Middleweight division of challengers to where there were no more viable opponents, after Weidman. As dominant as Weidman has been, he could be in for a long run with the strap. Weidman is currently undefeated at 12-0.
The only other thing that could have been a possibility are superfights. A bout between Silva and Jon ‘Bones’ Jones has been proposed numberous times. A bout against Georges St. Pierre looked like a possibility, until St. Pierre put himself on a leave of absence from the UFC. Silva is 38 years old. By the time his leg heals and he is cleared to start training he will be 39. Depending on how quickly he decides to accept another fight, he may not see the inside of another octagon until he’s 40.
Ironically, before the first Silva-Weidman contest, the UFC signed Silva to a new ten-fight deal. Now, only two fights into that deal, Silva has lost his title and sustained a career-threatening injury. Thankfully, this is the UFC and not boxing. Things get done straightaway without all the politics and corruption. Contracts can be amended. For the greatest fighter ever, Dana White and company can call it a day, and allow Silva to ride off into the Brazilian sunset. Silva has to realize these losses to Weidman do not affect his legacy and allow himself to retire with dignity as the title of “Greatest of All-Time”, rather than try to return and truly embarrass himself.
Silva entered the UFC with a bang and went out on his shield (well, on a stretcher but you get my meaning). In a gruesome way, this may have been the best way for Silva to retain his legendary status and pass the torch to the next generation at the same time.
- Greg Williams is a Staff Writer for ProSportsExtra.com