As sports fans, we have short memories. It's a fact. Some of us are worse in this respect than others, but none of us are all that good. Anderson Silva's last two fights have been awesome. He had the great comeback against Chael Sonnen, and the crazy front kick KO against Belfort. Because it's his record is so amazingly good (unbeaten in the UFC) it's easy to forget how different things were 16 short months ago.
Ah, think back. Think way, way back. I know it hurts all of our brains, but we can do it if we try.
Dana White wanted to impress the new investors in the UFC, and so he put on a mammoth show all the way across the world, with not one, but two title fights. The fight was in Abu Dhabi.
Unfortunately, the fight between Edgar and Penn was a bit of a bust, with a strangely passive performance from Penn and a controversial decision at the end. But surely the Maia/Silva fight would be good. Maia was a dazzling submission artist, and not afraid to mix it up (so unafraid, in fact, that Marquardt had knocked him out in just a couple of minutes). Silva was, well, Silva. He was coming off a Matrix-like destruction of Forrest Griffin. His bizarre performances against Cote and Leites had been forgotten, or blamed on his opponents. We were going see something epic.
And instead ... well, you know the rest. Sure you do.
The fight ended, it's worth remembering, with the crowd chanting "G-S-P". Yes, that same GSP that everyone dislikes so much now. I'm not going to defend his last three (or, with the benefit of hindsight, four?) fights here. I will say that it's amusing how quickly a fighter's reptuation can change. Chael Sonnen does a shitty job of defending a submission and Anderson's a hero, while the doctor allows Koscheck to fight with a busted orbital bone and GSP can't finish.
Imagine if Silva dances and grimaces against Okami on Saturday (which, given Okami's cautious style, is far from impossible) and if GSP puts on a great show against Diaz (which, given Diaz's reckless style, is also far from impossible). How quickly will everyone forget the front kick against
Couture Belfort, or GSP's failure to jump into Shields' guard?
So let's not focus on entertainment for a minute. Whether a fight is entertaining or not is unpredictable. Guillard v. Stephens was a snoozer, while Edgar v. Maynard II was a barnburner. Who could have predicted that? What is easier to predict is character.
And the best, the absolute best, you can say about Silva is that he has the temperment of a fickle artist, or a movie starlet. Like Randy Moss, he plays when he wants to play. That's who he is. I'm not trying to hate here, you've got your favourite fighters and I've got mine. When the stars align there's no one more entertaining than Silva. I still pay for his fights like a sucker. But I'll never, ever, ever forget the way he ran, literally RAN, from Demian Maia in the fifth round of that fight. In front of all those paying fans (including me, via pay-per-view) and in front of his boss, and in front of the UFC's new investors.
Dana needed a great performance, and Silva threw him under the bus. Now Dana needs a great performance on FOX. He won't get many second chances if the first fight's a stinker. With Silva, you might get a performance that could hook millions of new fans, a great Youtube moment, something like you normally only see in the movies. But is it worth the risk that he will run on the spot, dance, make faces?
And so if Dana does put Silva on FOX, he will only have himself to blame if things go wrong. I believe it was Bill Shakespeare that said: "Fool me once, shame on .... you? Anyway, fool me don't get fooled again."