Although he retained his UFC middleweight title, Anderson Silva lost a few members from his fan club today at UFC 112.
Silva took on Brazilian Jiu jitsu ace and huge underdog Demian Maia in what was promoted as a battle pitting striker against grappler. The fight started off as predicted: Silva showed a masterful display of technique on his feet by landing shots at will and pulling off hard-to-describe techniques. Things started getting bizarre, however, when Silva chose to focus more on mocking his opponent than fighting him.
After clearly toying with Maia when he could have easily finished him, Silva began to lay back and mirror his abysmal performance against Thales Leites. The crowd, who were Silva-crazy at the start of the fight, changed their tune because of the champion’s arrogance and lack of action; they began chanting for Maia and then for Georges St. Pierre, who was in attendance likely to promote a much talked about fight between himself and Anderson Silva.
The shift in crowd support began as Silva started to wind down his attack on Maia and replace it with backpedaling and juvenile antics. At one point during the fifth round, referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight to warn Silva that his inactivity would cost him a point if he continued. Maia gained the crowd’s support by going for broke in the last round and actually landing some punches against Silva.
Although Silva remains champion his legacy will likely be forever tarnished by this strange and disrespectful performance. The flood of criticism surrounding this fight has already begun and will no doubt get louder; possibly putting a halt to the proposed super-fight with Georges St. Pierre.
During the fight, St. Pierre was repeatedly shown in the crowd and the announcers frequently hinted that St. Pierre would be joining Silva in the cage to challenge him if he got past Maia; Joe Rogan even went so far as to declare that Silva will be fighting St. Pierre at welterweight after this fight. However, when the decision was announced the scores were not read and Dana White did not wrap the belt around Silva’s waist, as is custom. Silva was offered the microphone and although he apologized and criticized his performance along with his lack of humility, he did nothing to assuage the boos.
It will be interesting to see how UFC president Dana White handles Silva now. He was reportedly so incensed during the fight that he got out of his seat to track down Silva’s manager and translator, Ed Soares, and express his displeasure with Silva’s behavior. Last time Silva received this sort of criticism he was thrown in the cage with Forrest Griffin in hopes that Griffin would challenge him to perform. He did, and Silva turned in his most impressive performance to date. So, hopefully, White will go through with the St. Pierre-Silva fight to elicit the same caliber of performance from the ambiguous middleweight champ. Either way, Silva is going to have to work hard in his next fight to earn back the fans he lost in this one.