All major sports have “where were you when” moments, but mixed martial arts? Eh, not so much. We have the finale of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter and maybe Fedor’s loss to Fabricio Werdum in June 2010, but after that? Oddly, it seems as if Chris Weidman’s UFC 162 win over Anderson Silva is not being looked at as one of those “where were you when” moments.
There may be a few reasons why this is the case, with one of those reasons being generated by the promotion that staged the fight, the UFC. Leading up to the July 6 fight card, it seemed like the UFC press machine spent all of its time telling everyone that would listen that Weidman was a real threat, that he had the tools to break the death grip that Silva had on the middleweight crown since defeating Rich Franklin at UFC 64 in October 2006.
At times, it seemed as if the UFC team was trying to convince themselves of Weidman’s chances almost as much as they were trying to convince fans. It seemed as if everywhere you looked there were UFC fighters telling you just how Weidman was going to beat Silva, how he was the one with all the tools to accomplish what no man had done since January 2006, walk away a winner in a fight with Anderson Silva.
That narrative proved successful. The UFC generated a great deal of interest in the fight, while simultaneously convincing fans that Weidman was going to win. Because of that salesmanship, the moment that Weidman knocked out Silva turned into a “I told you so” moment for many, when the reality is that it should have been a “where were you when” moment for all of us.
Let’s not forget, the name Anderson Silva is one that is practically synonymous with the phrase UFC record book.
The other reason Weidman’s win may not rank as a “where were you when” moment is the fact that Silva had ruled the UFC’s middleweight division for so long that fighters such as Weidman have essentially grown up training to beat Silva.
Weidman has said that from the time he stepped into his first sparring session that he has been focused on beating Anderson Silva. That kind of game planning, that kind of focus, that kind of time to train for one man, even a man with as many idiosyncrasies as Silva has, is an advantage that can’t be underestimated. While Silva was busy racking up wins, an army of young up and coming fighters, led by the hard charging Weidman, were planning the overthrow of the king.
None of this takes away from what Weidman accomplished. The young man from Long Island is due all the praise and respect that has been heaped on him in the time following his victory. He accomplished what many others failed to do, soundly defeat the man that may go down in the history books as the greatest MMA fighter ever.
Now is when things get interesting for Weidman. Well, not now, but if he defeats Silva in the rematch at UFC 168, that’s when things will get interesting. That’s when Weidman will get to see what it’s like to have an entire division dissecting every second of every fight he’s ever competed in. That’s when he’ll truly turn from the hunter into the hunted. That’s a feeling that he has yet to experience. That feeling, like meat on a platter in front of many hungry 185-pound beasts, won’t be comfortable.
For now, Weidman can enjoy the fruits of his labor, the spoils of being able to be solely focused on one man. After UFC 168, if he defeats Silva again, that will all change.
Oh, and to answer my question. I was on the couch with my jaw open wondering what had just happened.
That’s where I was when Weidman dropped Silva with that left.