UFC 162 ended with a huge surprise when Chris Weidman rocked Anderson Silva with a left hook that turned the Middleweight division upside. So as the title of this series suggests the first goal is to put this win in perspective.
First point, Anderson Silva is still the best UFC fighter of all-time. His body of work, his six year championship reign, and his win streak all are an amazing combination of skill, talent, and a little luck that may never be matched. His loss here doesn't change that, decline is a part of sports. All sports dynasties end, but the ends of careers in combat sports are far less graceful than the gentle decline of team sports greats.
Second point, there is already talk of comparing Weidman to his coach and mentor Matt Serra. This is a disservice to Weidman, this is not that level of upset and will not be a flash in the pan for the young New Yorker. Weidman's star is just beginning to rise, he is fantastically talented and will be an elite Middleweight for years to come. Too many fans wrote Weidman off as a product of UFC hype and that he was just another bump in the road, that is actually a product of the UFC marketing being too generic. If you sell every opponent as being "the most dangerous guy Silva has ever fought" the creditably of the ads suffer. So when you get a guy who is legitimately a future perennial Top 5 guy like Chris Weidman, he gets lost in the shuffle with guys like Thales Leites or James Irvin.
I guess what I am trying to say cab be nicely summed up as "The king is dead, long live the king".
Alright let's get on to the run down:
- Don't even start with the "it was a lucky punch" line. Weidman set Silva up and lead him directly into the left hook. Watch the gif and you'll see Weidman connect with a left hook and Silva mock him. Weidman then throws a right cross and then throws a very weak backhanded right hand. The backhand punch was to get Silva to roll back towards that left hook that Weidman has just connected with. It was tactical fighting, not luck that lead to that left hand by Weidman. And this is twice now that Weidman has felled favored strikers with a left hook, reaching back to his win over Urijah Hall, and everyone who fights Weidman from now on is officially on notice.
- Another huge factor in this fight was that Silva seemed completely dismissive of Weidman's striking. With Silva you either get the killer or the clown, and last night it seemed the clown was in the cage. We've seen in the past Silva play with fire on his feet and now in retrospect warning signs of what was to come; Demian Maia starting hitting Silva clean late in their fight and Chael Sonnen rocked Silva on his feet in their first fight. It seemed Silva had started to believe in his own legend and it finally cost him. It can be spun any way you want it: Silva was playing or he was trying to get in Weidman's head. But that strategy is a risky one and it cost Silva his title this time around because you can get away with it if you are fast, but it is only a matter of time until someone comes along who can make you pay.
- Not sure what the future holds for Silva as he seemed very much disinterested in fighting Chris Weidman again. Silva's speech at the end was very odd, and he clearly really seemed to be trying to state that he has lost his drive for the sport, but still wanting some super fights. Very strange.
- The most interesting match ups to me for Weidman are either Vitor Belfort, who I think Weidman grinds down and finishes a few rounds, Luke Rockhold or Jacare Souza, who I both think stand a fair chance in with Weidman. The Middleweight division has just been set free and all bets are off on who holds the title a year from now, but I expect Chris Weidman to feature prominently into the title picture for a few years.
- After all that it is hard to remember anything else but Frankie Edgar and Charles Oliveira had a very fun fight. Edgar clearly won, but Oliveira was quite game and reminded fans that he has quite of bit of natural talent at this whole fighting thing.
- Tim Kennedy did an excellent job fighting Roger Gracie, he fended off quite a few attacks from the back, several choke attempts including a sneaky arm triangle that Kennedy managed to avoid. He kept the pace high and wore Gracie down.
- That fight was the best and worst of Roger Gracie all in one. The best is that Gracie is a technical master of all things grappling. In the first round he took Kennedy down with ease, took his back, was setting up attacks and even when Kennedy defended he was never really totally out of danger. The bad is that Roger is a fairly average athlete. He hasn't pick up striking, and MMA cardio demands are different of almost any other sport. Gracie can do 10+ full intensely grappling matches in a day the IBJJF Mundials, but he was very taxed after just a round and half in this fight. Kennedy played it smart, pushed the pace a little early in the second, but when Roger almost took his back again Kennedy got it back to the feet and by the third Gracie had no energy for anything.
- Mark Munoz looked excellent against Tim Boetsch in a little foreshadowing that a win over Mark Munoz is still a quality win in the UFC. Munoz looked healthy and on his game and removed Boetsch permanently from thoughts of title contention with a resounding win. Some issues still hang over Munoz as he was still too easy to take down, but it was still a strong showing.
- Munoz showed off his excellent ground striking with some thunderous shouts to the body on the ground. That body work really did a number on Boetsch and it likely had a lot to do with the Barbarian slowing down as much as he did.
- Cub Swanson and Dennis Siver delivered. Siver tried to flex his ground game again, but Swanson delivered with some quality violence . Swanson's striking from standing in Siver's open guard was nasty. It was an excellent back-and-forth kind of fight, Swanson had an awesome judo floating hip toss, and the ending was the cherry on top.
- Quick undercard thoughts since it was a late night. Chris Leben and Andrew Craig was likely the worst fight of the night, Norman Parke was very impressive boxing up Kazuki Tokudome, Dave Herman is likely done in the UFC after only lasting 17 seconds against Gabriel Gonzaga, Edson Barboza now has three leg kick TKOs to his name which is awesome, Brian Melancon surprised the heck out of me with that vicious knockout of Seth Baczynski right at the bell, and Mike Pierce did himself a favor with that knockout because that fight was looking like it could have been a long 15 minutes.