We have a new champion.
At UFC 162, middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva spent as much time taunting opponent Chris Weidman as he did fighting him. For Silva's previous victims, these head games marked the beginning of the end. But on Saturday night, for the first time in his UFC tenure, someone made the G.O.A.T. pay.
The early portion of the fight's second round saw Silva mocking Weidman and once again dropping his hands to his waist following a glancing Weidman left hook. But that's where the script took its twist. The No. 1 contender fired a follow-up left, and this one landed cleanly.
Just like that, Silva was falling, racing toward the ground alongside the lower mandibles of viewers around the world. The Spider was seemingly semi-conscious before his body even hit the canvas. A few unabated ground shots sealed the deal. The guard was officially changed, and Weidman was the new champion.
The knockout win came at 1:25 of the second frame. Now, the futures of a 38-year-old Silva (33-5), a 29-year-old Weidman (10-0), the promotion that employs them both and the entire sport of MMA look quite a bit different than they did 24 hours ago.
What we will remember about this fight
What will you remember?
It's probably the same thing I'll remember. Anderson Silva lost for the first time in seven years and for the first time since strapping a UFC belt around his midsection. It was also the ex-champ's first career knockout loss.
In terms of specific moments, it will of course be that fateful left hook and the exaggerated "Beat It" routine that preceded it.
What we learned about Silva
He's human. In his career, Silva has at times seemed above the laws of physics, dodging dangerous strikes and scoring knockdowns with seemingly no effort and Matrix-like precision.
At UFC 162, however, he went too far, like a serial killer who gets complacent and starts leaving sloppy clues. He backed himself against the fence, as he had against a far less dangerous opponent in Stephan Bonnar. He patted spots on his leg where he wanted Weidman to kick him. When Weidman broke away from an exchange, Silva beckoned him back.
Likely down in the judges' scorecards after the first round, Silva was still wobbling around inside Weidman's striking range, and the undefeated middleweight had the knockout power to make him pay.
What we learned about Weidman
He's a champion. Weidman and those around him have not been bashful about extolling his talents and promising great things. Weidman exchanged those promises for tangible goods Saturday night, thanks to his punching power, deep takedown shots and ability to call Silva's bluff.
What's next for Silva
Some time off. Something will materialize. But as this is uncharted territory for all involved, it's anyone's guess as to what he might do.
What's next for Weidman
How about a title defense? How about the winner between Michael Bisping and Costa Philippou, rumored to do battle this fall (according to MMA Fighting's Ariel Helwani on Fuel TV's UFC Tonight)? For better or worse, all those "superfight" concepts are dead and gone. But in its place is a new title race, now that the middleweights are suddenly free of The Spider's brilliant tyranny.