Anderson Silva: Heavy Was the Head That Wore the Crown

Damon Martin@@DamonMartinContributor IJuly 9, 2013

Jul 6, 2013; Las Vegas, NV, USA;  Anderson Silva during the post fight press conference at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Chris Weidman defeated Silva for the Middleweight Chamionship in a TKO in the second round. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

A shocked hush fell over the MMA world on Saturday night when the fighter most unanimously regarded as the best of all time fell in a stunning second round knockout.

The man who finally conquered Silva was a 9-0 contender whose lifetime accomplishments paled in comparison to the former middleweight champion.  It didn't matter in the end.

For the first time in 17 fights in the UFC, Anderson Silva was defeated inside the Octagon, but he wasn't just beaten—he was finished in dramatic fashion in the same way he's dispatched of so many challengers in the past.

When it was over some cried that Silva's disregard for Weidman's skills cost him. That his clowning and toying with opponents finally caught up to him.  Words like "disgraceful" were used to describe what Silva attempted and failed to do when bobbing his head and begging Weidman to hit him.

Some of that was surely disbelief because outside of a few rounds Silva spent on his back against Chael Sonnen, the middleweight icon had barely ever been made to look human over the last seven years.  Yet on Saturday night in front of a packed house in Las Vegas and millions watching around the world, the king crumbled to the ground and his crown was passed onto the next champion.

As he left the cage, Silva was stopped by Globo TV Combate from his native Brazil, and his words didn't seem like those of an angry man who just lost his first fight in the UFC.  There was very little fire behind his eyes demanding a rematch or saying that he just got caught and couldn't wait to come back to punish Weidman for the insolence of believing that he was really better than the greatest MMA fighter of all time.

If anything, Silva's words were that of a man that just had a huge weight lifted off his shoulders.

"I feel happy because I did my job. I always said that (a) fight is a fight, we can win or lose. Chris was better than me and he won. I'm happy because I did my job thus far, I built my legacy," Silva told the network.  "I'm not invincible, unbeatable, the best in the world. That doesn't exist. Chris is the champ. I did what I had to do but he defeated me"

Silva's reflections on the fight only got stranger as he seem to just accept the way he lost, and was ready to move on immediately.  His next stage wasn't about getting the title back or even a rematch with Weidman.

"Now, my focus is to think about my family. I'm not worried about a rematch.  Maybe (I'll stop fighting), maybe. Everything I've done in my career was good, of course I didn't wanted to lose, but he was better than me and that's it," Silva stated. "I'm okay, I'm okay. It was a knockout, that's normal.

"It's a knockout that made history, but I'm happy that I did my job. You win or lose, it's fighting, and I'm not worried about this. What I do with my career is keep fighting with love. Win or lose is consequence"

It was an eerily similar feeling on Saturday as it was in late June 2010 when the great Fedor Emelianenko suffered his first loss in 29 fights and in nearly 10 years. Emelianenko was facing submission specialist Fabricio Werdum, and just like Silva, he was doing what he always did to control the early part of the fight.

It all backfired, however, when Werdum sunk in a triangle choke submission and a few seconds later the Russian legend known as "The Last Emperor" was tapping out. When he was interviewed after the loss as well as the post fight press conference, Emelianenko's words were almost a prophetic statement for what Silva would echo three years later.

"I think that loss was the necessary one.  The one who doesn't fall, doesn't stand up.  It happens that I was made kind of an idol, and everybody loses, that happens," Emelianenko stated.  "I'm a normal human being as all of us, and if it is God's will, next fight I will win.

"I never wanted to be an idol or a god.  I got a lot of letters on my website 'Fedor you're a God', I do not want to be a god."

For years, Emelianenko dealt with the pressure of being called the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, but he never seemed to embrace that role.  When he lost, the moniker was then passed to Silva, who didn't seem to want the title that much either.

Neither Silva nor Emelianenko ever bestowed upon themselves the visage that they were the greatest of all time—it was passed down from their peers and journalists alike.  Certainly it was an honor, but nothing either fighter wanted or was willing to accept.

In a sport like mixed martial arts where the victor is usually the one we applaud for knocking out or literally making his opponent submit to their will, it's a king's game and only one can walk away from the battle with a victory.

Not to discredit the achievements in other sports, but fighting is ingrained in human nature.  It's more than one player putting a ball through a hoop.  It's more than someone hitting a ball over a fence.  Fighting is primal, and it's something everyone understands.

It's similar to the way Mike Tyson was held up as almost a god-like figure and routinely called the "baddest man on the planet" for much of his career because of the way he absolutely dismantled and dismembered his opponents. 

Whether someone was a boxing fan or not, the carnal nature of his path of destruction was easy to apprehend.

Fighting is a battle and the one left standing is the winner.

There may not be a more black and white competition with so little grey area than the simplicity that boils down in a fight, and that's what makes it so effortless to declare a fighter on a 10-year unbeaten streak or winning 16 fights in a row as the best we've ever seen.

So when terms like "the greatest of all time" or "best ever" are used, are we putting the fighters who truly are at the top of the sport on a pedestal where they are eventually destined to fall?  Do we expect too much out of them?

Are they supposed to stay unblemished forever and retire undefeated?

It appears when looking at the last two fighters most widely regarded as the best ever, that when their time to lose finally came, a wave of relief seemingly washed over them.

Following the loss to Werdum, it was odd to see a fighter like Emelianenko sitting at a post fight press conference with a bloody nose and a defeat on his record.  Still, he didn't look disturbed or dissatisfied with what had just happened. 

He looked calm and at peace like he was ready to move on in his life and in his career.

It was a similar scene on Saturday when Silva sat at a table without a UFC championship belt in front of him.  Silva didn't look one bit upset that Weidman was holding the gold. He just politely answered the questions he was asked, and left the press conference without a hint of regret.

Did the best middleweights in the world finally catch up to Silva the way the heavyweights did with Fedor?  Is there even a drive inside of the once mighty Silva to come charging back to reclaim what was once his?

Would he even want it back if it was offered to him?

It's hard to predict just three days later, but it should be a cautionary tale for whoever decides to anoint the next great champion as the best fighter of all time because as Shakespeare once wrote—uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report (all translations from Portuguese to English by Brazilian reporter Guilherme Cruz).


    Fight Ends in 15 Secs 😱

    MMA logo

    Fight Ends in 15 Secs 😱

    Brian Oswald
    via Bleacher Report

    UFC Champ Not Buying Floyd's MMA Talk

    MMA logo

    UFC Champ Not Buying Floyd's MMA Talk

    MMA Fighting
    via MMA Fighting

    Fighter Does Flip Off Spine of KO'd Foe

    MMA logo

    Fighter Does Flip Off Spine of KO'd Foe

    Steven Rondina
    via Bleacher Report

    Grappling Ace Garry Tonon Wins MMA Debut

    MMA logo

    Grappling Ace Garry Tonon Wins MMA Debut

    Mike Bohn
    via MMAjunkie