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Anderson Silva has defended his title three times since defeating Dan Henderson at UFC 82. Each time, we've seen the same thing. He dominates his opponents, but lets them hang on just so he can put on an extended show. Each time this has happened, we go through the same charade after his fight. Is he trying to send a message? What message is he trying to send? Why isn't he trying to finish? Does he want more money? Is he bored?
Here's a better question: Who cares?
It strikes me as a colossal waste of time to try to figure out the reason the greatest fighter alive is throwing temper tantrums when he fights. It really gives him too much credit to engage in this kind of guess work, and that's really what it is: guess work. We have no valuable insight into what's going on with Anderson Silva, all we see is a carefully managed public face. We get conflicting reports on everything related to the guy, ranging all the way from the veracity of his injury claims to salary negotiations. He doesn't speak english, so the only quotes we get from him are short, translated answers to simple questions.
Ultimately, the "why" question doesn't matter to me. I don't care why Anderson Silva fought like a spoiled brat; I just don't want to see it again. Last time Silva engaged in this kind of behavior, the UFC rewarded him with a huge fight against Forrest Griffin in the co-main event of a big card. There's an argument out there that the UFC should force him to fight on free TV to deny him a PPV bonus. While he certainly deserves that and worse, I think he'd put in another protest performance, and at the end of the day you end up punishing the fans.
The answer to the problem is simple. In the past week, Anderson conceded on the issue of weight: he said he'd go down to 170 to fight St. Pierre. According to Dave Meltzer, St. Pierre is up for the fight if Silva will come down. This is a fight that people have wanted to see for a very, very long time. Rather than trying to punish Silva and continuing to promote mismatches, Dana should simply go ahead and make this fight happen. I don't know who will win, but I am sure that Silva will have to perform at his peak to beat St. Pierre at 170. Clowning around will not be an option.
In Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre, the UFC has a unique opportunity. These two have amassed (by far) the most impressive resumes in the sport over the past three years. Both men are in their primes, and both are willing to fight.
Dana White is excellent at positioning himself as a man of the people. When he loses it and starts calling a boring main event a disgrace, average fans feel like Dana is really on their side. Jordan Breen put it well on his radio show last night: Dana makes fans feel like shareholders, and he creates a lot of good will by doing so. Now he has a chance to put up or shut up: is the populist routine an act? Or is he really going to give the fans what they want?
UFC 112 marked the second time fans have chanted "GSP" during an Anderson Silva fight. Does anyone recall this kind of anticipation for any other superfight? Fans didn't chant for BJ while St. Pierre fought Fitch, and they didn't chant for Fedor while Lesnar fought Mir. At UFC 112, fans in Abu Dhabi chanted for this fight.
Dana White says he's not interested in Anderson Silva. Quite frankly, right after the fight, neither was I. But I can assure you that there are a number of people interested in seeing him lose. If the UFC puts on a show with another Anderson Silva mismatch on top, it will bomb. But if they put him against someone that fans truly believe in, they will tune in en masse to see what happens.