Sunday, July 7, 2013 | 1:15 a.m.
For an organization that’s vocally championed anti-bullying initiatives, the UFC could have seen this coming.
The biggest bully in the history of the world’s largest mixed martial arts promotion tumbled Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Anderson Silva taunted, disparaged and insulted Chris Weidman during the UFC 162 main event.
The way the anointed "Greatest Fighter in UFC History" dropped his hands and provoked with gestures wasn’t unlike the tactics he had used to success against many of his 16 previous opponents in the octagon. Only this time Silva met his match.
“It pisses me off when someone tries to do that to me,” Weidman said.
Weidman tried to stay calm when Silva pulled some of his episodes in the first round, reminding himself not to get drawn into the fight the champion wanted. It was in the second round that Weidman changed his rationale to, “Enough of this; I’m hitting him.”
That switch re-arranged the history of the UFC. The records for most consecutive victories, 16, and most straight title defenses, 10, will stop there.
Weidman timed when Silva would bob his head back during one of his goads and clubbed him with a right hand. A few more shots with Silva on the ground and it was over, at 1:18 of the second round.
“Anderson Silva has won a lot of fights because of what he did and what I caught him on,” Weidman said. “He’s not letting his defense down. It looks like he is, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. I capitalized on that, but a lot of other guys didn’t.”
The tale of the tormented rising up to the tormenter while bystanders react in disbelief is as old as fighting itself. The conquered schoolyard bully showing up later with a chance of salvaging his reputation isn’t typically part of the myth.
But that’s exactly the opportunity UFC President Dana White promised Silva would receive.
“Regardless of what he says, I guarantee you there’s nothing he wants more than that rematch with Chris Weidman,” White said.
Silva, indeed, disputed that suggestion. Immediately after the loss, the 38-year-old from Curitiba, Brazil, declared his days of fighting for a UFC title over. He wanted to continue competing, but not for championships.
White argued the reaction was because Silva’s mind wasn’t right.
“It’s been a long time since this guy has lost a fight and I’m sure he forgets what it feels like,” White said.
The post-fight press conference helped validate White’s hunch. Silva shook his head at White’s guarantee of a rematch, but didn’t shoot the idea down.
“Maybe in three or four months, I’ll think about what I’m going to do,” Silva said through a translator. “But right now, I can’t really think about that. I just want to take some time off, go off and think about things. There’s a lot of pressure with defending this title and I defended it for a long time so I need some time for myself.”
White’s resolve in making the rematch should prove as determined as Weidman’s desire to make Silva pay for his clowning routine. It’s the most significant fight the promotion can stage at this point.
For years, pound-for-pound matchups with Silva facing dominant champions from other divisions held that distinction. Those possibilities died rapidly at UFC 162.
“That fight cost Georges St. Pierre, Jon Jones and Anderson Silva a lot money,” White said. “In those super fights, he was the link to both of them.”
White stated that he didn’t believe Silva would take the same approach in a second meeting with Weidman. Silva resisted speculating on any specifics about the future, not uncommon from his demeanor after some of his most memorable conquests.
He was humbled, but not changed. Once a bully, always a bully.
“He’s a genius at getting into people’s minds,” Weidman said. “He’s a smart dude. I just kept my composure, kept moving forward. It just got to a point where I believed in my stand-up more than I did before and went for it.”