Chris Weidman’s shocking second-round knockout victory over Anderson Silva proved that change isn’t easy to accept for most people, and Jon Jones the fighter, not the fan, was no different on that fateful night of July 6, 2013.
The Octagon reaction camera from Fox Sports’ UFC Ultimate Insider was zoomed in on the light heavyweight champion and perennial bantamweight contender Urijah Faber at UFC 162.
It was a jittery atmosphere at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that night. Silva was without question the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but he had never faced anyone quite like Weidman, a young and talented contender with an unflinching bravado.
“Let the fun begin,” Jones said, as the highly anticipated middleweight title bout got underway.
Right out of the gates, Weidman secured a takedown and began raining down punches from Silva’s open guard.
Like any Silva fan, Jones appeared unfazed by Weidman’s early dominance. It wasn’t like Silva had never lost a round before. Longtime fans can even recall him being full-mounted and pummeled in the first round by The Ultimate Fighter Season 4 winner Travis Lutter, who he easily submitted in the following round.
Silva had faced adversity so many times in his UFC career and triumphed each and every time. Faber admitted Weidman was looking really good in the fight, but he was quick to point out that there was no need to panic.
Jones agreed with Faber’s assessment and remained confident in the pound-for-pound king’s ability to rebound and right the wayward ship:
Weidman’s looking good. Let’s see what he does with it. Listen, I’m not a Weidman hater either. I want to go ahead and make that clear.
Jones’ skepticism seemed to be right on the money initially, as Silva escaped back to his feet off a failed kneebar attempt from Weidman.
Much of the support for Weidman leading up to the bout was derived from his cerebral approach to fighting. He is an incredibly intelligent guy who appeared to be unfazed by Silva’s bullish pre-fight antics.
Unfortunately, that calm and relaxed personality didn’t follow Weidman into the cage on fight night. He was pulled into “The Spider’s” web of endless taunting and clowning. At one point, Weidman even dropped his hands and gave Silva a couple of free punches.
Jones was impressed by Weidman’s confidence, but he knew the tide was slowly turning:
[Silva] appears to be getting relaxed, getting comfortable. He’s getting nice and relaxed, and Weidman is letting him get relaxed. You know what? Chris Weidman has got a little spunk. The kid got some balls.
Weidman proved to have more than “a little spunk.”
In the second round, he continued to play Silva’s game in an attempt to outpoint the legendary striker. As Jones watched in silence, Faber could be heard yelling out for Weidman to stay committed to the takedown, which was likely the same instructions coming from Weidman’s corner.
But then the unthinkable happened.
Weidman caught Silva mid-taunt with a hard left hook that sent him crashing to the canvas. The entire arena, including Jones and Faber, jumped to its feet in shock as Weidman put the finishing touches on perhaps the greatest upset in MMA history.
Whether negative or positive, Silva losing deeply affected every MMA fan in one way or another. It was strangely reminiscent of Fedor Emelianenko’s loss to Fabricio Werdum after going unbeaten for nearly a decade.
People latch on to excellence, and there have been none in the UFC more dominant than Silva.
“It’s crazy man. It’s crazy...you got to respect the game man. I know Anderson respects the game, but you’ve got to respect the game. None of us are invincible,” said Jones, who was obviously disappointed after the fight.
After a historic run like Silva’s, maybe Weidman was needed to once again bring the MMA world back down to reality.