I'll admit it: I like a little showmanship in my fighting. When Silva started juking and jiving, I was laughing along at first. Then I really wanted Maia to hit him. And then it got...weird.
There's no defending what Anderson Silva did tonight, though I'm sure some will try. For all the talk about St. Pierre not finishing, at least he tried to finish. Anderson made a mockery of Maia, disrespected him for three rounds, and then disrespected the fans for the last two rounds. Nobody's saying you have to finish, but it's completely reasonable for fans to expect their champions to try to finish.
In the post-fight, Anderson claimed Maia disrespected him as a fighter. I can only assume he's mad that Maia said he would dominate Silva on the ground. Regardless of whether or not Maia was disrespectful (he wasn't), at least he didn't disrespect the fans.
Maia saved his career in the fifth round. Instead of being remembered as Thales Leites, he went out and put everything he had into the fifth round, and even won a full blown punching exchange with Silva. The biggest problem was Silva's reach--he was able to use his length and power to keep Maia so far away that Maia couldn't effectively work for the takedown.
Silva did a lot of work tonight to undo the good will he had coming out of his win over Forrest Griffin. Any progress he made in establishing himself as a draw in that fight may have been undone in Abu Dhabi. Is GSP next? It's hard to say. If Anderson is willing to make the cut, St. Pierre will take the fight, but I don't see St. Pierre looking to add on muscle to fight a crowd killer like this at 185. Where's the upside for him?
What's next for Anderson Silva? Who knows. Dana White is enraged right now, and seems uninterested in GSP vs. Anderson Silva after what we saw tonight. Here's a Dana White quote from the press conference via Ariel Helwani:
I don't want to see GSP vs. Silva after tonight. Silva might be the first champion fighting on a prelim. I don't want to see that shit.
Say what you will about Dana, but that sentiment sums up the way a lot of fans are feeling. One has to feel bad for Frankie Edgar, a guy who pulled off (?) an incredible upset and is getting no attention.