All of us who watched UFC 97: Redemption witnessed two things. We shall the end of an era as Chuck Liddell was knocked out, yet again, and we saw one of the most dominating fighters of our time.
Chuck Liddell meant a lot for the sport and there is no question that he will be an incredible ambassador for mixed martial arts, but what really surprises me is the lack of respect people have been showing the UFC Middleweight Champion, Anderson “The Spider” Silva.
I really feel like fans were spoiled early in his UFC career as he would finish of opponents in spectacular fashion and now he is just continuing his dominance, but in a way that isn’t too exciting for the average fan.
Anderson Silva is now just focused on retaining his belt and he is employing the strategy of “don’t get hit in the face.” Can you blame him? He has absolutely no competition in the Middleweight division, why should he stick his neck out and try to do something that could end with him being caught and put to sleep?
Sure, the Thales Leites fight wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and Thales looked more like a call girl laying on their back waiting for the client to come in, but Silva didn’t play those games. Silva kept his range and slowly picked apart Leites until it was clear that Leites just wasn’t there to fight anymore.
I can’t blame the lack of highlight punches on Silva; it was Leites showing clearly that he really had no backup plan if his take-downs didn’t work. So instead of playing in to his opponents strength, Silva showed some impressive and unorthodox strikes like he usually does, while punishing his opponent and easily taking the decision.
People will say that Anderson Silva should have tried to finish the fight in spectacular fashion for the fans, but let me ask you this...if a football team is cruising to victory should they just run the ball or try to get the crowd roaring with a careless trick play?
Should an NBA team make careful passes and slow the game down or should they try to go all And1 while making ridiculous passes and shots? It’s a simple concept, play smart...there is no need for unnecessary risks.
The bigger question is no what is next for Anderson Silva? He really has no competition in the middleweight division and with Thales Leites proving he wasn’t a mixed martial artist but just a jiu-jitsu player, while Demian Maia got his shot?
Maia may have been shut out of an opportunity because of Leites’ lack of fighting skill. To me it is clear that Silva is bored with the division. He is instead dancing around and making the opponents look like fools while he uses his textbook striking to pick them apart.
Silva says that he still wants to have some more fights at 205. He is getting his wish at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, PA against fan favorite Forrest Griffin.
There is no question this will be an exciting fight. Griffin will not back down and he will go at Silva relentlessly. This could be just the fight that helps restore Anderson Silva’s reputation with the fans.
Even after this fight there is one thing we will all want to see. We want Silva drop to 170 and fight the welterweight champion, Georges St. Pierre. Will it happen? We will just have to wait patiently.
Until then, appreciate Anderson Silva for being one of the best technical fighters of our generation, and look forward to his brawl with Forrest Griffin.