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The middleweight champion overshadowed the whole event. "Frankie Edgar beat B.J. Penn to capture the lightweight belt? Okay, that's fine and dandy, but did you see Silva's fight?" Even UFC President Dana White felt bad for Edgar's lack of celebrity post event.
Yelling, antagonizing, running around, smacking the mat, making odd faces... that's just not mixed martial arts. Fans were used to seeing Silva throw crisp punches and devastating knees. Silva does the kind of things people see in movies, White said. But now, White's favorite pound-for-pound fighter isn't so beloved.
The UFC has involved so much since its inception in 1993, especially since 2001 when White and the Fertitta brothers took over. It went from being a stupid, brutish spectacle of strong but untalented men running across the ring at each other, attempting to get a quick knock out. It was called a side show and a freak show; the people who hated the UFC hated it for a reason.
But now that mixed martial arts is a recognized sport and there is more to the UFC than simple and gratuitous violence, people are beginning to understand the difference between the UFC back during the days of its birth, and the UFC now, around its 17th birthday.
Now that mixed martial arts has been accepted and people are learning about the sport, anybody who watched Silva's UFC 112 fight was probably taken aback. Fighters fight with discipline and respect. Silva showed the exact opposite.
In the post-fight press conference, White resoundingly said that he had never been so embarrassed in all his years with the UFC. In the fourth round, he left the fight - the only time he has ever exited during a title fight. When Silva showed up to the press conference - late - his "apology" came as more of a "don't blame me." Silva said that some fights don't go the way everybody wants them to. He also stated that Maia had disrespected him.
But this disrespect... where did it come from? Pre-fight, the two Brazilians didn't exchange much trash talk. So what was Silva talking about? Oh yeah - remember when Demian Maia said that once the fight hits the floor, he's going to submit Silva because he has a very celebrated ground game? Well, Silva took that to mean that, even as a champion and a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Maia was saying that he didn't have any capacity on the floor. And because of that comment, he felt disrespected and insulted.
But what about Silva disrespecting the fans? Tickets and pay-per-view spectators deserved an apology. Silva turned a landmark event into a puddle of foolish fighting.
If Silva wanted to get back at Maia for being "disrespected," why didn't he actually fight Maia and teach him a lesson in stand up? Maia's stand up had improved, but was not on par with Silva's. Silva may have been correct to keep the fight on the feet, but he didn't accomplish as much as he could of in terms of scoring. More damage could have been caused with a knockout.
The Abu Dhabi fans hadn't done much booing, but during the middleweight title fight, the crowd was cheering Maia's name, and an on-site reporter heard some fans say that Silva's a boring fighter and that he sucks.
In essence, Silva didn't make Maia look bad. He made himself look bad. And in the process, he gave the challenger a bunch of new fans.
Before UFC 112, everybody wanted to see Silva vs. Georges St. Pierre. White had said that there would be some division switching in order to make that fight happen sometime in the future. But after Silva's antics against Maia, it doesn't seem like the president wants anything to do with the middleweight champion at all. So what about his title fight against Vitor Belfort? How about Chael Sonnen? And potentially Nate Marquardt?
It might be a while before fans see The Spider back in the Octagon, but something's telling the mixed martial arts world that many won't have a problem with that.