Anderson Silva's last two fights (contrary to popular belief, both wins) were not only criticized, but practically criminalized for their lack of an explosive finish within the first two rounds as he had done in his first seven fights in the UFC. As the old saying goes, "With great skill comes ridiculously high standards." That is the saying...right?
To start, there's the Cote fight. In round one, Silva landed a big head kick followed by a huge knee right to the chin of Cote, which seemed to hardly phase the grizzled Canadian. The fact is that Cote has one of the best chins in MMA. Almost anyone else taking those shots would have been finished.
Unfortunately, bursts of brilliance from Silva in this fight were forgotten underneath the gloomy shadow of the unspectacular finish in the third round. He did not get a chance to finish the deal, and thus his performance was labeled as "bad."
Joe Rogan said it well during the second round: "One of the things I love about the fact that Cote is so tough is that this fight is gonna go a while. And it's so entertaining watching Anderson Silva perform." Well, so much for that. Silva would have to move on.
Thales Leites was next in line. The fight requires review however excruciating it may be to think about it.
One only needs to look to the third round to summarize the general idea of the fight. The third was the round that Silva really started going after Leites. In return, Leites dove out of the way of punches and onto his back and again, and again, and again.
The only blame to be given out for this snooze-fest goes to Thales Leites. It is the challengers job to try to make a legitimate effort at taking the belt away. Forget the fact that Leites completely cowered under the spotlight.
Silva was fighting a guy that needed to use the "Silva has two arms and two legs like everyone else" rationalization to make it seem like he really believed he could win the fight. Leites was not ready for the challenge.
Fortunately, Silva's next fight is against Griffin - a man famous for his fighting spirit. And with such a "game" opponent in line for Silva, it's clear to see that this is a potential fight of the year candidate. The counter-punching Silva is going to be squared off with Griffin's dose of "aggression with a plan."
This is more than a fight where the Middleweight Champion moves up a weight class to fight a former Light Heavyweight Champion even, but also a match where the styles seem to be a perfect clash.
The only question left to ask is: why isn't this fight getting more publicity? What makes it so far off from the battle between GSP and Penn?
Silva is not as popular as his skills and achievements dictate he should be.
Forrest was convincingly winning his fight with Evans before it fell apart in the third round. This is incredibly close to being a "Champion vs Champion" fight. Yet it's merely a Co-Main Event on what seems to be viewed as "just another fight card."
The last time Anderson was involved in a fight of such caliber was back at UFC 82: Pride of a Champion on March 1, 2008 against Dan Henderson. Up to this point, it is the peak of Silva's career. He faced his toughest test, and made Henderson look mediocre in the second round en route to the submission victory.
Since then he KO'd Light Heavyweight gatekeeper James Irvin, and returned to the Middleweight Division with the aforementioned less than exceptional results.
UFC 101: Silva vs Griffin is not only a potential new peak in Silva's career from the casual fan's point of view, but a fight that might just show that Silva never was on a downfall in the first place. This is the fight to show that the claims of Anderson Silva's demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Does Griffin have a chance to beat Silva in this fight by using a couple well-timed takedowns and competitive stand up? Yes, he does. And that's exactly why Silva will be able prove to everyone just how amazing he is in this fight. Be prepared for a "ballet of violence."
Watch out MMA world, because this is the fight that Anderson Silva gets the type of publicity he deserves. This is the unrecognized super fight. But rest assured, next time Silva is in a "super fight," everyone will know it.