The predominant emotion left behind by a UFC event is seldom confusion. Still I felt confused.
When Anderson Silva fell back to the canvas it was at once as final and unsatisfying as Tony Soprano looking up from a diner table only to be swallowed by darkness. It was simply unfinished. The man whose every fight mystified and thrilled was by all appearances done as a force in the octagon. I was nonplussed. Weidman's jubilance was equally perplexing. Did he feel as though he'd won? It didn't seem as if anyone had, not Weidman, and certainly not the fans.
Silva's injury has been adequately described so I won't. To me it was as interesting as it was horrific. After some reflection I cared less about who would have won than how the injury made me feel about his career. This imperfect and presumed ending started to seem meaningful.
His frailty as flesh and blood had undone him. And if some are to be believed the less than perfect technique of his leg kick was in part to blame for the break. His body and his art had finally come up short.
Consider how deafeningly Silva's mortality was displayed that night. It is worth then looking back on previous contests and wondering at how someone so plainly human showed us the heights to which mixed martial arts can ascend.
The Silva stories are well known. His elbow strike knockout of Fryklund. The Maia buffoonery. The Belfort kick. The smirking, disinterested banshee of a human who would offer his hand to a downed opponent so he could play with them a little longer. I personally witnessed Team Quest's screams of triumph and subsequent disbelief as Silva was thrashed by Sonnen for an entire fight and then, somehow, victorious. The shell-shocked aftermath made quite an impression.
The leg break was tragic and disappointing. It inspired empathy and it robbed us of a conclusion. But as trite as it sounds there was a strange sort of poetry to it.
Anderson fought hurt. He took great risks in the ring, abandoning technique and defense against brutally strong opponents whose life study is inflicting damage. He dropped his hands. He stood flat footed and allowed opponents to take shots while his back pressed the cage walls. Absorbing blows he could have avoided he'd smile broadly and ask for another. Then the leg broke and you remembered the guy was human THIS ENTIRE TIME. Whether there was a method to his madness or he was simply bored I can't say. I do know that while I can marvel at the mastery of a Floyd Mayweather, I also see him outpointing opponents to another payday while taking minimal risk. As I get older it's harder to surprise and thrill me, Silva always did. So I'll take our champion and boxing can have theirs.
Anderson, devastating or infuriating, was never was boring. If that was his last fight in the octagon he will have left in the stunningly unpredictable fashion that made his fights unmissable. If he comes back to reclaim the title he will have done something that no one has before, and that would be fitting.