So we've come to the end of things. There will not be a fighter like Anderson for a long time. We're too smart for him now. We've seen the clown without his make-up. There will be better fighters and better strikers. There will be strikers who make Anderson look like an amateur. But no Anderson.
What made Anderson so appealing was not that he was a good striker. It was his understanding that if you know why a rule was made, you are allowed to break it. This is intuitive, unteachable. When a person knows that in his bones and was born knowing it, no matter his trade, he becomes a magician.
Breaking your leg on a checked kick is a very low percentage outcome. It's not a reliable path to victory and you could say it doesn't tell us enough about the victor. But look at Anderson. He was the first person in MMA to win by high front kick. He hit an elbow on Fryklund that he saw in a movie. He made Lutter submit to elbows while he was lying on his back (no one gives him enough awe for that). He's knocked people down with jabs and upkicks, and he's pulled last-minute wins when all hope was lost. His entire career is an exercise in low percentage victory. It's not an accident; it tells us everything we need to know about him. It's because he plays by different rules, and that is ultimately the most charming thing about him. He does what you're not supposed to do and gets out clean.
And it is why he's so hated. He shouldn't be able to do what he does; he should be punished. How dare he clown.
Everyone wants a magician to fuck up his trick, right? It's reassuring. It proves that no one is beyond the laws we've been taught. That no one lives out of the realm of mundanity.
But he was already broken when he fought the rematch. He fought Weidman like a broken toy. I watched Weidman knock him down and I thought, "that seems about right." I didn't expect him to do great, mysterious things anymore. And he didn't. He looked so ordinary. Like any random fighter dredged up for an inconsequential champion.
You can catch a thousand bullets. You get shot once and no one will ever forget it.
A broken bone on a checked kick wasn't the expected outcome. But it wasn't surprising. Poetically - theatrically - it felt right. This is how these things end, you know. Someone loads a real bullet and the magician gets shot.
So we've come to the end of things. So this is what we're left with. There are no tricks here, no great illusion for the finale. Just an old man with a broken leg. And that is, finally, how he leaves us.