Kevin Iole documents the atrocities that have been Anderson Silva's recent middleweight title defenses:
Following UFC 90, which featured little action in the first two rounds before Cote had to withdraw after a third-round knee injury, White came to the post-fight news conference and said, "I was sitting there saying, ‘What the [expletive] is going on?' " He also said, "I was sitting there going, ‘No, this isn't happening,' " and, "If you don't know him and you showed up for the first time, you'd [think] that guy was goofing around. He was acting arrogant and cocky and trying to play with [Cote] like he was a little kid."
It was more of the same at UFC 97, when Silva declined to follow Leites, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, to the mat and turn a fight into a grappling match, leading to a dull five-round fight. Silva didn't understand why he was being criticized and said, "Everything I trained to do, I did."
But Silva's performances at UFC 90 and UFC 97 were just kind of a cruel warm-up act to the comedy skit that went on during his title defense against Maia, the first UFC card in the Middle East and the first with the White and Fertitta's new partners, Abu Dhabi-based Flash Entertainment, in place.
Iole also says that had Anderson put on the kind of performances against Cote, Leites and Maia that he did against Rich Franklin (2x), Dan Henderson and Nate Marquardt that he'd likely have been rewarded with a mega-fight against welterweight champion Georges St Pierre.
Instead, Silva is being punished by having to beat Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort in conconsecutive MW title defenses before getting any more fights outside his division. That's IF Dana White approves of his performances in the two fights.
But if there is a repeat, the pressure will shift from Silva to White. White vowed after UFC 112 to cut Silva should he fight as he did that night ever again.
If Silva prances his way to an unsatisfying win, the burden will shift to White to back up his tough talk and ax the man he's touted for years as the best fighter in the world.
That would be far more interesting to watch than any of Silva's last three title defenses have been.
That will indeed be very interesting and could well be a critical fork in the road for Dana White, the UFC and MMA as a sport. If the precedent is established that simply winning is not enough to stay in the UFC, but rather entertaining is the preeminent virtue, White will have indeed set the UFC on a course away from sport and towards sport-entertainment.
On the other hand, if Anderson Silva once again makes a mockery of his opponent and the fight and Dana does not cut him, Dana will look like he backed down in the face of a recalcitrant but supremely talented athlete.