Chris Weidman defeated Anderson Silva once again, this time by TKO after Silva’s leg snapped in the second round.
Weidman’s UFC 168 victory means he retains his UFC middleweight title.
The arena is booked. The date is set. And even though the new UFC middleweight champion, Chris Weidman has held his title for a mere 10 days, his Dec. 28 rematch with Anderson Silva can’t come soon enough.
“I’m excited to go out there and prove that what I did is going to happen again,” Weidman, 29, told SI.com in his first comments since UFC president Dana White on Saturday officially announced the rematch. “I’m the better fighter and I’m excited to look even better this next fight.”
Weidman (10-0-0) dethroned Silva (33-5-0) with a knockout 1:18 into the second round of their July 6 title fight. Silva taunted Weidman before the last blow by keeping his arms down and feigning injury after a series of Weidman’s blow. Silva’s antics sparked controversy ranging from erudite discussion about the sportsmanship of Silva’s goading of his opponents to harebrained conspiracy theories about fight fixing. The knockout ended Silva’s streak of 16 straight wins in the UFC, a record 11 knockouts and 14 total finishes.
Weidman wanted the rematch not only to snuff out any talk of subterfuge but also for a much more basic reason: Silva deserves it.
“I’m going to give it to him but because he’s going to deserve it. He’s been on the top for so long,” Weidman says. Though the wait to meet again, for the fighters, might feel just as long.
– Melissa Segura
SI.com analysts Loretta Hunt, Jeff Wagenheim and Jon Wertheim provide their predictions for UFC 162, which takes place Saturday (10 p.m. ET) and will be live-blogged on SI.com.
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman
HUNT: I have to hand it to Weidman and the UFC. I can’t remember the last time a virtually unknown fighter stirred up this much hype as the usurper to the Silva dynasty. I feel like I’m standing alone on a platform where the train has long left the station. Is Weidman the one? He looked promising against a crippled Munoz, who couldn’t move his shoulder six weeks before the bout. I’m sticking with the aging Spider — I can always catch the later train. Silva by TKO
WAGENHEIM: Are we putting too much weight on Weidman’s most high-profile victory, in light of what we now know about the physical and mental state of Mark Muñoz on the night last summer when Chris pummeled him? On the other hand, shouldn’t Weidman’s plodding performance in his second-biggest fight get a pass, considering that he took on (and beat) the estimable Demian Maia on just 11 days’ notice? My point: The jury is still out on the 9-0 challenger. Not so with the champ, who’d already had 29 pro bouts, including four defenses of the UFC middleweight belt, by the time Weidman began his MMA career four years ago. I want to be sold on the good-natured yet bad-to-the-bone Weidman, but I’m not yet ready to liquidate my Silva stock. Silva by TKO.
WERTHEIM: The skills of Weidman are lost on no one but the upset pick — and it’s a hot one — feels more hopeful and whimsical than legitimate. Silva is MMA’s GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) and it’s because of his versatility and adaptability. If there’s a weakness in his game, it would have been exposed by now. Is Weidman — coming off a year-long layoff, under huge pressure, having faced no opponent nearly as skilled — ready? I say close by not quite. Silva by TKO.
Frankie Edgar vs. Charles Oliveira
HUNT: Three tough losses for former champion Edgar has strewn him towards the bottom of the heap. Oliveira is actually more in the middle, a talented featherweight who can clear out the bottom rung, but struggles with the contenders. Edgar by decision.
WAGENHEIM: Edgar enters on an unthinkable three-fight losing streak. But all of the ex-lightweight champ’s defeats were in title fights. Coming out on the wrong end of uber-close decisions against Benson Henderson (twice) and José Aldo can be explained away. A loss to Charles Oliveira could not be. Having fought a higher grade of opponents, Frankie now needs to outclass this guy. Edgar by decision.
WERTHEIM: Both fighters have something to prove. Edgar hasn’t won a fight in almost two years and Oliviera’s star is falling, having not only lost but missed weight in his last fight. This bout feels like an attempt by the UFC to reignite the career of Edgar, a grinding honest fighter. I say he outwrestles and outworks Oliviera. Edgar by decision.
Tim Kennedy vs. Roger Gracie
HUNT: This was a bout that would have eventually played out in Strikeforce, if the promotion was still standing. I expect Kennedy to close the distance to negate Grace’s reach advantage and rack up points on the cage and with an occasional and carefully executed takedown (you don’t want this Gracie on his back too long). If he executes correctly, Kennedy is in the clear. Kennedy by decision.
WAGENHEIM: The majority of Kennedy’s wins have come by submission, but he would be wise to go with Plan B right from the start this time. Tim should know better than to mess with Gracie on the mat. But I’m guessing he’ll play with fire anyway, and get scorched. Gracie by submission.
WERTHEIM: An interesting fight and contrast of styles. Can Kennedy beat Gracie to the punch, as Mo Lawal did? Or can Gracie utilize his size advantage to defend striking and take the fight to the ground? I’ll go with the latter. Gracie by submission.
Mark Muñoz vs. Tim Boetsch
HUNT: Muñoz impressed the MMA sphere this week with his very own Extreme Makeover reveal — the dude lost 62 pound in 5 months! How does this relate to my pick? Munoz gained that weight during a downslide: coming into the Weidman fight with his shoulder surgery still not healed and out of that disaster with a broken foot. If the four-time All American wrestler is back in fighting condition, Boetsch can only hope to throw off some scattered punches here and there before he’s scooped to the mat and eating some Grade A ground-and-pound leather. Muñoz by TKO.
WAGENHEIM: Both were on track for a title shot — Muñoz farther along than Boetsch. Both were derailed — Muñoz more shockingly. Afterward, “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” crashed and burned. Now he faces a road test he simply cannot fail if he’s to stay in the race. Muñoz by decision.
WERTHEIM: Muñoz got plenty of attention in MMA World last week when he revealed that his depression following the loss to Weidman caused his weight to drift north of 260 lbs. Good for him for dropping more than 50 lbs. in seven months. But it’s not the ideal pre-fight regimen, physically or mentally. Still, he’s a superior fighter to Boetsch, 32, whose momentum was stopped by Constantinos Philippou at UFC 155. Muñoz by decision.
Cub Swanson vs. Dennis Siver
HUNT: SoCal survivor Swanson has definitely found his stride: four straight wins in 13 months, with one of them on short notice. When he fights aggressively and uses his speed, things come together for him. Siver, like the oncoming tank that he is, lacks the latter. Swanson by decision.
WAGENHEIM: Swanson is on a roll with four straight wins, three by KO. Siver, in winning six of his last seven, has shown himself to be a survivor. Dennis will be no pushover, but he won’t withstand Cub’s ferocity. Swanson by TKO.
WERTHEIM: An erratic fighter for much of his career, Swanson has matured at the Jackson/Winklejohn Gym. Almost 30, he is on a four-fight win streak and has become one of the more dangerous strikers in the division. Siver is a tough customer with plenty of experience. But Swanson is the stronger fighter. Swanson by TKO.
All hyberbole removed, Anderson Silva will face the toughest challenge of his career on July 6 when he takes on the undefeated Chris Weidman at UFC 162. So why, then, was most of a conference call in advance of the fight covering mostly everything but the fight? A quick look at the highlights from the call:
· A Fight Bigger Than His Own: While Silva might have the biggest fight of his legendary career in front of him, that doesn’t mean he’s lost perspective on what looks to be a bigger battle: That for the future of his native Brazil. In what’s becoming an increasing rarity in sports, Silva embraced his celebrity to speak intelligently and eloquently about the political protests unfolding in his homeland. The protests, Silva says, “are valid as long as they’re peaceful and there’s no destruction of any property.” He went on to say, “Brazil’s got everything to be a great country for Brazilians and for immigrants. It’s just a matter of having more conscious politicians and now people are going to the streets and demanding that from the government.”
The protests began on June 6 as a small, centralized outcry against a hike in transit fees but have swelled in both numbers and purpose. Last Thursday, 1.5 million Brazilians took to the streets in more than 80 cities to rage against government corruption, substandard health care and education, and an atrocious public safety record. Though the protests come on the precipice of soccer’s World Cup next year and the 2016 Summer Olympics, no other sport has a larger percentage of athletes affected than mixed martial arts. Three of the top 10 pound-for-pound UFC fighters are Brazilian-born. For more on the protests, check out this week’s July 1 edition of Sports Illustrated.
· Who’s Fighting Again? Weidman is Silva’s next opponent but he fielded what seemed like just as many questions about . . . Roy Jones, Jr. Yup, the boxer. And the boxer who, we humbly submit, at age 44, should, perhaps, consider hanging up his gloves. “That’s a fight I’ve always wanted. That’s a fight I still want,” Silva says of a matchup with the boxer. “His boxing style is one that I would like to test myself against. I’ve always been a fan of his and I’ve always wanted to test myself against Roy Jones.” Silva floated the idea of fighting Jones earlier this month in an interview with the New York Post. What started as a whimsical wish in a tabloid registered as a legitimate challenge to Jones who responded via TMZ that he would accept the bout?
· Psyched Out? Chris Weidman, who graduated from Hofstra with a psychology degree, may have found an unusual application for his studies: Beating Silva. “I just know what kind of mindset I need to have when I walk in that cage,” Weidman says. “The biggest thing is to stay confident, stay relaxed and make sure I dictate my fight once I get in there.”
– Melissa Segura
LAS VEGAS — Rashad Evans will be looking for a defining win on Saturday night. He’ll also be looking for something not so tangible, something that’s been lost.
“The competitor has been brought back to life, the one who truly just loves to compete,” Evans told reporters on Thursday, two days before his UFC 156 co-main event fight against Antônio Rogério Nogueira at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. “So many times when you’re competing, you kind of fall out of love with it. It becomes like a song and dance, and you kind of get like, ‘Ah, yeah, gotta do this, gotta do that.’ To really love to compete, to really love every aspect of it, is a passion that a lot of people don’t have. I’ve found myself, within the last 11 months or so, just falling in love with competing again.”
That period coincides with a time during which the 33-year-old “Suga Rashad” has settled in with a new team of training partners, the Blackzilians in south Florida, after an acrimonious and very public departure from his longtime home, the Jackson-Winkeljohn gym in Albuquerque. And the change of camps is related, of course, to the former light heavyweight champion’s most recent fight, last April’s loss to the division’s reigning king, teammate-turned-mortal enemy Jon Jones. While this weekend’s fight could have major implications for his career — there’s talk that Rashad could be next in line to face middleweight champion Anderson Silva, and a rematch with Jones is also a possibility — the aspect that most stirs up Evans (17-2-1) is that he and Nogueira (20-5) will simply be competing against each other. Nothing more.
“I felt like last time with Jones I got too distracted by everything else that was going on, the whole back story,” said Evans, referring to the teammates’ split over one man grabbing the belt that the other wanted as well, and their departure from a shared pledge to put team first and never fight each other. “It kind of took away from the fight for me. I thought it did the same thing for him as well. I don’t think he was at his best that day, either.
“It took away what competing is about. It kind of scarred me in a way that made me mot want to compete anymore. I was like, ‘This is not about fighting.’ It’s just about a bunch of b.s. It’s not what I love about fighting. What I love about fighting is the actual fight, the feeling that I get when I walk into the cage and I see the mat and I see all the blood and all the sweat and everything else that everybody laid out. And when they say go, that feeling, that’s what I like about fighting.”
Prior to that, however, when there was talk of the middleweight king taking on another belt holder, the speculation usually centered on the possibility of Silva stepping into the cage with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
So which superfight are we going to see?
Well, how about both?
A reliable source has told SI.com that Silva had a meeting scheduled with UFC president Dana White on Wednesday night to discuss superfights. Yes, that’s superfights, plural.
Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, confirmed that a meeting took place but would not say what was discussed. He would only reveal that “Anderson got a beautiful Bentley.”
That’s the same make of vehicle that was driven by Jones before the then-24-year-old wrecked it in a drunken crash in May.
Jones and Silva have said they would not fight, citing their friendship as well as concerns that they would be putting their legacies and endorsement deals at risk. But White has talked of staging a superfight in 100,000-seat Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas, which would make the bout a huge moneymaker for the UFC, with appropriately hefty fighter purses.
Might the gift of a Bentley be the first step in paving the way for the superfight of all superfights, with the UFC ensuring that Silva and family keep up with the Joneses?
– Jeff Wagenheim
MONTREAL — So now we all know what it’s like to be in a cage with Anderson Silva. Minus the pain, of course.
On Saturday night, we did get the confusion, a good dose of it, stemming from the UFC middleweight champion’s uncanny elusiveness. He’s right there in front of you, then in a flash he’s gone without a trace, then he’s back, acting as if he’d never left.
Silva showed up at the Bell Centre prior to the start of UFC 154 and told an assemblage of media that, despite what’s been reported over the past week, he’s gung-ho to make his next bout a superfight with Georges St-Pierre.
“I’m very excited for this fight with Georges,” he said. “Maybe here, maybe in a big stadium in Brazil.” He said this around 10 minutes into his questioning by reporters, after beginning the session by addressing a query on the possibility of a GSP superfight with “Maybe, I don’t know.”
Adding to the mystification was the fact that St-Pierre first had to take care of business in his welterweight title defense against Carlos Condit later in the evening in the main event.
But “The Spider” had that one all figured out. “My opinion, Georges wins tonight,” he said matter of factly.
So, assuming he was right, when might a Silva vs. St-Pierre superfight take place? Perhaps in May, when UFC president Dana White has suggested? “I need to check my schedule,” said Silva, drawing laughter from the assembled media.
Anderson Silva plays with people.
The UFC middleweight champion has done it for years inside the octagon, most recently a month ago in Rio de Janeiro. He languished against the cage early in the main event that night as if lazing about on a street corner, arms at his side except to rev up the crowd of adoring countrymen by broadly gesturing for his opponent to hit him. No, to try to hit him. Then, after dodging every punch with nothing but a fluid rhythm of head and upper torso movement that would make a matador blush and a contortionist blanch, Silva apparently decided that he’d toyed enough with the musclebound man standing in front of him slinging hopeless leather. And with a single well-placed knee, he knocked the juice out of Stephan Bonnar. Show’s over, folks.
Outside the cage, Silva plays with all of us.
You were expecting “The Spider” to walk into the octagon Saturday night in Montreal, if Georges St-Pierre wins the UFC 154 main event, and publicly challenge the welterweight champion to a superfight, right? He’s going to be at the Bell Centre, we know. And UFC president Dana White is on record as saying, “He wants [GSP] to win this fight, and he wants to fight him after.” Asked directly if Silva will challenge St-Pierre in the octagon post-fight, the UFC president answered, “I would say yes.”
But Silva says no. “Not in my character to stand up and challenge anyone,” he told Tatame in a story posted Monday on the Brazilian magazine’s website. “I think that this will not happen.” He laughed and added, “I think not, I’m sure.” (Translation from Portuguese is from online sources.)
We might be inclined to chalk up this about-face letdown to the fight promoter with the mostest. During his conference call with MMA media last week, White made it sound like the octagon challenge was a fait accompli. But does he really need to use a phony Silva call-out to help sell the first St-Pierre fight in more than a year and a half? No, he doesn’t. It might well be that Dana simply knew that Silva was going to be in the building and put two and two together.
Well, here’s another set of numbers for White’s abacus: two zero one three.
Silva revealed in the same Brazilian interview that he does not intend to fight again until the end of 2013. White had been expecting to be able to put Silva back in the cage much sooner than that — perhaps against GSP in Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.
“I think it’s time for me to leave my life in order, because this thing of always being worried and having work, I just leave my personal life aside,” Silva told Tatame. “I have my projects, my personal plans and will keep them moving forward.”
While grinding the middleweight division to a halt?
Or maybe just putting Dana White through the grinder. Silva knows what Dana told the media and understands how much a superfight with St-Pierre would mean to the UFC. Perhaps this is simply his dramatic way of letting it be known that he won’t come cheap.
We know Silva likes to play with people. Maybe he plays them, too.
“We missed him,” said Dana White, the words spoken with a hint of longing. “It’s good to have him back.”
The UFC president was speaking of his company’s most lucrative pay-per-view draw, welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is indeed back after 20 months away from the octagon because of knee surgery and the rehab that followed. White was so thrilled that GSP is ready to fight again, in fact, that he assembled MMA reporters on Wednesday afternoon to hype the superfight between St-Pierre and middleweight champ Anderson Silva.
No, wait, the media conference call was actually about Georges’ bout against interim champion Carlos Condit a week from Saturday in the main event of UFC 154 in Montreal. At least that’s what the press release said the call was going to be about.
As things turned out, though, the session came as close to being an announcement of GSP vs. Silva as the fight promotion could muster without issuing an official poster.
Remember that fake UFC championship belt a mischievous Chael Sonnen used to sling over his shoulder for press conferences and television appearances in the contentious leadup to his July rematch with Anderson Silva? You know, the one that he impishly told an interviewer on ESPN was proof that he was the real middleweight champion?
Well, let’s pull it out of the closet and dust it off. That plastic-and-pleather strap is the one that rightfully ought to be put up for grabs next April 27 when Sonnen challenges once again for the UFC championship. This time at light heavyweight, though.
Yep, this is not another Chael media ploy. The UFC actually announced on Tuesday that Sonnen, who has competed in the fight promotion’s 205-pound weight class exactly one time — and that was seven years ago and he lost — will challenge Jon Jones after the two serve as coaches on the 17th season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Jones need not bother to bring along the shiny brass-and-leather belt that he’s been proudly wearing for the last 19 months, the one he acquired by knocking out a champion and in the time since has defended against four former titlists. That belt signifies something earned, something extraordinary, something real. So “Bones” should leave it home in the trophy case. When he steps into the octagon next spring to take on a middleweight fighter with a heavyweight mouth, the fake plastic belt will suffice for the fake title defense.
That is not to deny that the next several months will be a lot of laughs. Chael is at this very moment locked in a windowless room with a team of joke writers brainstorming a Top 10 list for Letterman and five minutes of couch chatter for Leno.
And there’s no doubt that Dana White and Co. will benefit from this arrangement, which first was reported by The Los Angeles Times and later was confirmed by the UFC. The Ultimate Fighter will get a much-needed boost in ratings, and that springtime pay-per-view, featuring two of the organization’s top draws, is sure to do big numbers.
Maybe that’s good enough for the UFC: a financial boon generated by a dud of a fight.
Yes, a dud.