Caption: Will Anderson Silva rediscover his "zen-fighter" state of mind?
Since UFC 97 expired, there has been a lot of chatter about what exactly is wrong with Anderson Silva. A lot of theories have been put forth. They range from “he is bored with the competition at 185 pounds” to “he is being passive-aggressive toward Dana White for not signing off on a boxing match between Silva and Roy Jones Jr.”
What no one has considered is that Silva might be showing signs of mental weakness.
Mental weakness is associated with somnolence, which is a condition of semi consciousness that can approach a coma like state. Coma is certainly a state that some may equate Anderson Silva’s most recent performance to.
Will we witness Anderson Silva sleepwalk through the rest of his MMA career?
If Silva is not intentionally choosing his current octagon antics, perhaps it has gotten to the point where his mental state is, in large part, out of his immediate control. Have the demands of retaining his belt coupled with the loftiness of being considered the best pound for pound fighter in the sport become like a bag of bricks around Silva’s neck?
When George St. Pierre lost to Matt Serra, many people jumped on the "GSP is mentally weak" bandwagon. Since that fight, St. Pierre has gone 5-0 and looked mentally unstoppable.
So what could have caused such a schism in the mind of Anderson Silva?
There is actually a mental evaluation test out there for athletes to help determine, “How mentally tough they are?” One of the key questions put forth to an athlete is, “Would you rather compete against a better opponent and potentially lose than go up against a weaker opponent and win?
When looking at Silva’s fight career, the one time he fought a better opponent…and by better we mean bigger…was against James Irvin at 205 pounds. That was the last time Silva fought in the manner fans are accustomed to, i.e. with complete confidence and no hesitation.
His two fights since have left even the most stalwart of MMA fans questioning their beliefs. Is it true that once you let the Jeanie in the bottle you can’t put her back in?
Maybe that is exactly what happened when Dana White & Co. coerced Anderson Silva into fighting James Irvin at UFN 14, all so they could counter program Affliction’s fight card. They let the Jeanie out of the proverbial bottle.
Silva got a taste of actually fighting at his more natural weight, he felt comfortable at 205 and liked the idea of competing with the bigger boys. The only problem is, Silva couldn’t stay there, not even if he wanted to.
Silva was obligated to defend his middleweight title. The UFC needs at least one superstar to carry each division, and at middleweight, Silva was that unflappable star. But maybe in Silva’s mind, he wasn’t able wasn’t able to go back to that place.
And so, in an attempt to avoid cognitive dissonance, he had to resign himself to winning against weaker opponents.
So Silva “physically” went back there, but the body only does what the mind tells it to. And right now his mind is telling him something different then what it was saying this time last year when he submitted Dan Henderson with a rear naked choke.
So is Silva bored with the competition at 185 pounds?
Sure, but it’s more then that. The UFC forced his mind to leap forward and because of that new possibilities were crystallized in his mind. Then they asked that mind to go back in time.
If Dana White could he might borrow the Doc’s Dolorian and go “Back to the future” to a time when Anderson Silva was mentally satiated with the middleweight division.
The only logical thing Dana can do now is let Silva swim upstream to the light heavyweight division. The only catch is Lyoto Machida. Silva’s good friend and training partner is currently looking to bait Rashad Evans at UFC 98 and hook the title.
If Machida loses however, Silva could have his window of opportunity to make a run at the 205 pound title. If not, we may see Silva checked out indefinitely, not physically at first but certainly mentally. And where the mind goes the body always follows.
Brian Oswald is a free-lance writer for MMA HQ where this article was also published. To check other great MMA articles as well as get your daily fix of news and videos you know what to do. To email the writer: firstname.lastname@example.org