I stood directly in front of Anderson Silva following his open workout for UFC 162.
The greatest mixed martial artist of all-time sat on stage in front of a motley crew of media that included myself. There was a softness in his voice that felt different than anything I'd heard before.
Silva has always been a strange songbird. He is often described as mercurial. One minute he is silly and kid-like, eerily similar to his musical idol, Michael Jackson. The next, he's showing the killer instinct of his NBA equivalent, Michael Jordan.
He could have been a Shakespearean character. Who could ever forget the mask he wore to the weigh-ins for his fight with Vitor Belfort? He'd done so because Belfort had said he hides behind a metaphorical mask.
You never know what you are going to get from Silva.
But this past week, leading up to his fight with Chris Weidman, something just felt off with the champ.
At the aforementioned open workout, he spoke of how this fight was important because it was a chance for a new champion in the UFC. In his most bizarre pre-fight interview, Silva said that losing to Weidman would be the "perfect" ending.
In the past, anytime Silva would say something off-kilter, we would chalk it up to him being a trickster coyote. Dana White has said that "The Spider" loves to spin a web for the media. But it felt like more than spinning on this go-around.
Alas, I brushed the cobwebs in my mind aside and picked my poison: Anderson Silva. How could I not take the man who had never lost inside the Octagon?
Only Silva could beat himself...and that's exactly what came to pass.
As expected, in the first round, Weidman used his wrestling to take Silva down. In the second, though, Silva got his weird on.
Some call it clowning. I like to refer to it as Silva's "hokey pokey" dance. The champ has done it before in previous title fights. Against Patrick Cote at UFC 91, and then again opposite Demian Maia at UFC 112.
Many believed it was a result of Silva not feeling that his opponent was worthy to stand across from him inside the cage. So, was that the case with Weidman?
This time around, many believed it was actually a part of his official game plan; a spastic attempt to throw the challenger off and force him to drop his guard. Instead, it was the champ who got caught in his own mousetrap.
Weidman's jab short-circuited Silva's juke and jive, and for a moment, time stood still. And then the earth opened up and swallowed his 16-fight win streak whole. Silva was no longer the champ, and nothing made sense for the rest of night.
It didn't take long for conspiracy theories to circulate.
Some thought Silva threw the fight because he was tired and bored of being champ. Losing was a means of unshackling himself of the burden. Others thought that the UFC paid him off to set up what would be, if it happens, one of the biggest rematches in UFC history.
Those in shock needed to make meaning.
Perhaps, Silva took to heart the incredible number of fighters picking Weidman over him, and he decided to be their muse. Or maybe, just maybe, his shenanigans simply caught up to him.
Immediately following the fight, Silva told Joe Rogan that Weidman was the champion and he did not want a rematch. At the post-fight presser, I listened to Silva, via a translator, say he wanted to take a few months off before deciding what to do next. Dana, for his part, repeated "rematch" over and over.
For now, all we can do is sit back, wait to see what comes next and live with the weirdness that was.
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