There’s a joke about how you can be the greatest guy in the world, but if you [make love to] one sheep, that’s what you’ll be remembered for. With prophecies, it’s the opposite. You can be wrong a million times, but if one prophecy comes through you’re a genius. How many would remember that Babe Ruth pointed to center field during the 1932 World Series if he hadn’t proceeded to hit the very next pitch into the center field bleachers? This phenomena is similar, but not the same, to the 10,000 monkeys with 10,000 typewriters school of probability, otherwise known as a guesser's chance, which is nicely illustrated by Brittany Palmer’s prediction of a 2nd round TKO by Silva. A prophesizer's chance is a little more informed, with more gravitas assumed by the predictor.
With that said, some predictions are so audacious and articulate that they deserve respect. Specifically, Sensei Steven Seagal promised “two or three things that we once thought were illegal.” He also said he worked with Silva on techniques to stay standing. For his part, Silva promised that his performance would change MMA forever.
Silva also promised to do some dental work on Sonnen, and well, that’s precisely what would have happened had Silva kneed Sonnen in the face, and not the body, in Round 2. Had that happened the fight would likely have been called, with an inconclusive outcome, and would have resulted in a rematch of even more epic proportions. But misses don’t matter in the game of prophesy.
And a knee to Sonnen’s jaw would have been illegal. Illegal illegal. As in, seriously, functionally, legitimately illegal in a way that actually matters and carries consequences.
But perhaps those “two or three things that we once thought were illegal” that Seagal was referring to are things like Silva’s transferring of Vaseline from his face to his body, or grabbing Sonnen’s shorts, or initiating his pummeling of Sonnen’s face a full 24 hours before the fight even started.
One could imagine the Sensei counseling Silva, “Anderson, if your fight against Sonnen goes to the scorecards, ta fudido. Do what you have to do to stay on your feet. Grab the fence, grab his shorts, grab his balls, whatever. Ignore the warnings. Give up a point if you have to. Hell, give up ten points. It doesn’t matter, because you have to finish him to win this fight.”
“In fact,” the Sensei may have continued, “why don’t you start working on his jaw at the weigh-in?”
And for all practical purposes, if you don’t get punished for something, how illegal could it be? If you still win the fight then it doesn’t matter if it’s illegal. It is, in essence, functionally legal.
Since he didn’t get punished, Silva’s behavior could be more accurately described as bending the rules. Rules, like limbs, will bend until they break. But in all of his antics, starting at the weigh-ins, Silva once again proved himself a master technician. He bent the rules to the breaking point, but nothing snapped.
While Seagal’s promise of “two or three things that we once thought were illegal” was arguably, and eerily, delivered, history may very well show that so too was Silva’s promise to change MMA. He did so by demonstrating, for all to see, how inadequately certain rules of the Octagon are enforced, and just how effectively bending them can tilt the odds in your favor. He forced the world to take note of the fact that when a finisher faces a decisioner, it pays for the finisher to bend the rules. This high-profile demonstration of the inadequacy of rule enforcement in MMA could, ironically, lead to modification of refereeing protocols, which could result in more fair fights. And we’d have Silva to thank.
And he will have improved MMA by way of holding Chael by his shorts and beating on him like a dog on a leash. Which, as a Brazilian, you’d probably want to do to a man who says he he’s going to slap your wife on the ass and tell her to cook him a steak.
Once again, Silva has put on a clinic. Some fans might be disappointed that Silva’s promise was fulfilled in this legalistic way. But once again, Silva has proven himself an innovator by doing things …differently…in the Octagon. Seagal and Silva both called their shots and delivered, though not as blatantly as the Babe did. Were these outcomes what the prophesizers had in mind when they made their statements? I don't expect to ever know. But nonetheless, I'm kind of impressed. And if Seagal's promises of quasi-legal tactics and special techniques for keeping it on the feet were referring to things other than what we saw, that's one hell of a coincidence.