To Those Who “Don’t Want To Take Anything Away” From Chris Weidman

Chris WeidmanComing out of UFC 162, there has been a diverse array of opinions on the fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman. There have been those who have said that Anderson deserved to be knocked out (count me in that camp), those who have claimed the fight taught us nothing (which is exceedingly incorrect, as you can learn from any fight), those who want a rematch, those who don’t, and just about everything in between. However, there is one line of thought that has worn thin rather quickly. That would be the group of people who claim something to the effect of, “I don’t want to take anything away from Chris…” and then proceed to do exactly that. It needs to stop. Anderson Silva did not beat Anderson Silva on July 6th, 2013. Chris Weidman beat Anderson Silva. In fact, Chris Weidman knocked out Anderson Silva. Both fighters had sufficient time to prepare mentally, physically and tactically for the fight, both showed up and tried to put their gameplans into effect on Saturday night, and one man was significantly more effective. It has become nearly accepted wisdom that Anderson fought different in this fight than in any of his recent fights, and “gave” the fight to Weidman. The fact is, he didn’t. The difference in this fight when compared to the Stephan Bonnar fight (for example) is that Anderson was fighting a better fighter who could actually take advantage of the holes he left while not leaving gaping holes to counterstrike. The fact that Anderson thought he could approach a dangerous challenger in the same manner he took on a well-past-his-prime journeyman Light Heavyweight doesn’t impact how Weidman fought, and shouldn’t have any bearing on the public’s opinion of the new champion, the quality of his performance, or how much he deserves to be wearing the belt right now. If Anderson fought out of character those arguments would be valid, but he didn’t, and it seems that’s the part people are struggling to wrap their heads around. Head over to Fight Metric and look at the number of significant strikes Anderson threw in the first round against Weidman (18) and then take into account that and he was on his back for 2:10 of that first round. The pace at which he threw strikes while standing (32 strikes/5 mins) was actually higher than any of his recent fights, dating all the way back to his bout with Forrest Griffin (he was on pace for 37 strikes in the first round of that bout). Still, if you listen to Silva apologists, he was disturbingly less active in this fight than any others. In fact, other than that Griffin bout, Anderson has only thrown strikes at a higher pace while standing in three of his first four UFC bouts (Franklin 1 & 2, and Leben). The difference in this fight compared to previous Silva fights wasn’t Anderson, it was Weidman. Despite Anderson actually being more active on the feet than normal, he wasn’t able to penetrate the challenger’s defense. In fact, it was Weidman who was landing the cleaner, harder strikes while standing. Of course, Anderson’s chin and theatrics allowed him to no-sell all of the punches Weidman landed, until he got rocked of course. While Anderson had the crowd behind him, and acted like he was winning, he lost the first round handily. Silva was likely winning the first minute of the second round with his leg kicks, but unfortunately when you get knocked out, winning the first minute of a round doesn’t count for a whole lot, so the argument that the fight was turning in Anderson’s favor is moot since it was such a small sample size. Quite simply, the talk that Anderson “handed” the fight to Weidman needs to stop. At the same time, I think the argument that “Anderson could have won that fight whenever he wanted” is completely asinine. Silva did not want to lose that fight. He just lost the fight because of who he was fighting. Personally, I’m happy with the excuses put forward by Silva backers, as they have resulted in Weidman opening at +100 and already moving to +120 in their yet-to-be scheduled rematch. I’ll take the fighter who isn’t 38 years old and coming off his first career knockout in the rematch.

Written by Brad Taschuk

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