One of the hallmarks of the greatest athletes in the history of sports is that they rarely let a setback affect them in any kind of major way.
What I mean by this is that they're unflappable. If they fail, they simply get back on the horse and keep going. They don't change their style. Sure, they might do a little bit of soul searching, but what you see when they return to the diamond or the field or the pitch is usually what you saw before they faced any kind of adversity.
I guess it shouldn't come as any kind of surprise, then, that Anderson Silva has absolutely zero plans to change up his style when he returns to the Octagon to face new middleweight champion Chris Weidman on December 28.
Lots of people believe that Silva lost the title to Weidman solely because he was showboating. I don't think that's the case; I think Silva's arrogance had something to do with it, but I also believe that Weidman was properly prepared and able to capitalize tactically. Bleacher Report's own Jack Slack was able to explain this much better than I ever could, and I urge you to read his piece on the subject.
If you expected Silva to step in the cage, keep his hands up and generally fight like every other athlete on the UFC roster, well, you've got another thing coming. Silva told Brazilian outlet Globo TV (via mmafighting.com) that he doesn't plan on changing a thing:
"If Muhammad Ali came up saying I wasn’t humble, then I’d think if I was humble or not," Silva said. "There was no lack of respect. I respect everybody. All the provocation, hands down... It should continue, it’s part of the show."
I respect that Silva plans on changing nothing. He'll still keep his hands down and use the Matrix-like ability to dodge punches that has thrilled fans and helped Silva outclass all of his UFC opponents, right up until UFC 162 when it didn't.
But even if Silva does go in the cage and put on the same performance against Weidman, I have to believe that he'll give the new champion more respect this time around. He has to. Despite Silva saying that he respects all of his opponents, it's clear that he's just paying lip service in order to avoid appearing arrogant.
Because the truth is that Silva is arrogant, and rightly so. Before Weidman knocked him out, Silva had put together an otherworldly string of performances that were marred only by his first fight with Chael Sonnen. And Silva ended up winning that fight.
If I were Silva, and I'd made world-class opponents look absolutely silly over the course of seven years, I'd probably be arrogant, too. He had every right to believe that Weidman had nothing to offer him when they stepped in the cage.
Who wins the rematch?
That's no longer the case. Silva must know, deep down, that Weidman has something to offer. He is the champion, after all, and he earned that belt by knocking Silva out in one of the most dramatic moments in UFC history. Even if Silva believes that Weidman only won because Silva didn't take the New York native seriously, well, he certainly cannot believe that now.
I'm fine with Silva going in the cage and showboating. Despite the loss to Weidman, Silva's earned the right to do whatever he wants. If he feels like going in the cage and putting his hands down every once in a while in an effort to thrill the fans, that's OK by me. I'll enjoy watching it.
But if he thinks that he's going to go in the cage and take Weidman as anything but an absolute threat to defeat him a second time in a row, then perhaps Silva is out of his mind. And perhaps he'll deserve to lose a second fight in a row.
I hope that's not the case, though. I'd like to see Silva performing at his absolute peak, giving all due respect to Weidman and staying intently focused on the fight. I'm OK with a little showboating, so long as Silva keeps his eyes on the prize.
The fans deserve that much, and so does Chris Weidman.