category: MMA / UFC

thoughts on UFC 168

Oh gosh…. Been 12 Β hours and it still seems surreal.

Anderson Silva, greatest of all time, apparently ended his career tonight with a gruesome leg injury. If you watched, you understand the fan community’s shock. Will THAT be the last we see Silva? With such a bizarre, anti-climactic (fight-wise) end?

Some optimists Tweeted that the injury was a clean break, and we may just see Silva again — but it is doubtful. Silva, even before the first Weidman fight, and despite signing a contract for multiple future fights, no longer seemed to have his heart in this sport. When one has conquered all, what fun is left in competing? What is there left to accomplish, aside from repeatedly, monotonously defending one’s title? Perhaps Anderson had had enough. It showed in the first fight with Weidman — where clowning around (some say he did it out of nerves, sensing that Weidman was a formidable opponent; others, such as myself, think he did so out of boredom) cost him his belt. Weidman winning the title under those circumstances (a fluke, if there ever was one) left many eager to see whether Weidman truly could beat the GOAT (proving the general consensus of a ‘fluke,’ Anderson entered this rematch as the favorite).

As I sat down for the PPV, I remarked: “In a few hours, we shall know for certain who is truly the better fighter: Anderson or Chris.”

Tonight would ultimately not provide such answers.

And, due to the injury, at this stage in Anderson’s life and career, we shall likely never know the answer.

Then there was the Rousey v. Tate fight. At the post-fight press conference, an absolutely devastated Tate could barely look at the audience of reporters, holding her head down. She has no reason to — Tate went three rounds with Rousey and made Rousey look quite nervous, beaten, and shaken — far more than any other fighter has done. Had it not been for some ill-conceived strategy of takedown attempts rather than keeping Rousey on a stand-up game (Tate is clearly the superior striker), she could have won. Perhaps that’s what is eating away at Miesha, understandably. I have no doubt that these two will meet again. Apart from that, though, how else was the fight a factor in this utterly surreal night? Well, while a technical win for Rousey, the champ has lost a great portion of her fan base. Fans had already started flocking away from Rousey after seeing an ultra-competitive, hostile side of her: her unsportsmanlike demeanor (refusing to shake Tate’s outstretched hand, curiously behaving bitterly even in victory!) only further drove fans away. The crowd’s deafening boos, even drowning out Rousey’s victory speech, were certainly indicative of such, as were the thousands of tweets decrying her behavior. While I was previously a strong supporter and fan of the lovely, strong-willed Rousey, part of her appeal was her role model status. But how can we tell little girls to look up to a fighter who showed no grace towards an opponent? This is simply unheard of in the UFC. When Anderson Silva fought Chael Sonnen for the second time, the Brazilian was ever-so-endearing in the Octagon, putting Sonnen’s horrific comments (including Sonnens’ racist remarks about Brazil and its people, and the suggestion that Silva’s wife should cook him a steak) behind them, even inviting Chael for a BBQ. But Rousey could not even shake Miesha Tate’s hand? C’mon.

Third, the Josh Barnett vs Travis Browne fight. How I love watching The Warmaster, ever since the Strikeforce matchup I witnessed of Barnett vs Cormier, where both warriors pressed on with broken hands. But Browne caught Barnett against the cage during the latter’s takedown and, bizarrely (I keep using that word tonight, indeed), Barnett, rather than moving away, just took the blows, leading to a TKO. Sure, a knee had rocked him but it was nonetheless a: “What just happened here?” moment.

What an odd way to wrap up the year — and to wrap up what has certainly been a strange season for the UFC. First, its star Georges St Pierre goes on hiatus (potentially a retirement) for unknown reasons. Did he at least exit riding high off a win? Sure, but a controversial one where many (not myself included) thought his opponent prevailed. And now its greatest historical star, the incomparable Anderson Silva, potentially ends his career. As for Weidman, he has an asterisk next to his two victories over Silva. While a win tonight was supposed to catapult Weidman into superstar status, it ended same as the last one: with jaws dropped, shock, dissatisfaction — and more questions raised than answered.

Only bright side? If Silva does return (extremely unlikely), perhaps that comeback can be the inaugural UFC fight at Madison Square Garden. That’s about the only upside I can think of at the moment.

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