No one could have predicted the outcome to UFC 168’s main event. It was horrific, it was anticlimactic, and it was depressing. The future remains murky, but the present is clear; Anderson "The Spider" Silva may never fight again.
Strangely enough, Silva’s losses to Weidman may actually present a best-case scenario. Allow me to explain:
Assume for a second that Chris Weidman is the real deal. Let’s also assume that Silva/Weidman I was not as fluky as it looked and that the ending to Silva/Weidman II was more defensive genius than freak occurrence. If any of these assumptions are even partially true, Silva may have bit off more than he could chew in facing "The All American". In this scenario, Silva’s excessive showboating in the first fight and shattered shin in the second would provide the perfect camouflage for disguising his inevitable decline. If you want to argue that he could have and should have defeated Weidman in both bouts, nobody can definitively say otherwise. That’s the beauty of uncertainty—it allows you to believe whatever you want.
Such uncertainty means it will probably take some time for Weidman to garner the respect he rightfully deserves. Call it a lucky punch, call it a freak accident, call it an act of God, call it whatever you want, but the skill of Chris Weidman is undeniable. He’s 11-0 with two of those victories coming by way of Silvian stoppage. Weidman is here, and he’s here to stay. Silva, on the other hand, remains a question mark. If he decides to return, his legacy awaits a plethora of uncharted territory. If he decides to retire, his supporters can forever blame a lethal mixture of cocky attitude and brittle bone. History would then be burdened with the impossible task of making heads or tails of an unanswerable question.
Regardless of what happens, Silva has been granted a privilege not many fighters receive—a way out. Whether or not he takes it remains to be seen, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Silva would rather lose another fight by knockout than spend the rest of his life wondering if he limped away too soon.
Only time will tell. Or maybe it won’t. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.