The controversy over UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva’s last two fights continue.
Anderson Silva’s first appearance inside the UFC Octagon was on June 28, 2006 at “Ultimate Fight Night 5” where he fought Chris “The Crippler” Leben. Silva dispatched the iron-chinned Leben with a knockout just 49 seconds into the fight.
Silva continued his reign of terror over the next two years. He fought six times from the Leben fight in June of ’06 to his light heavyweight fight with James Irvin in July of ’08. He knocked out four of the six opponents and submitted the other two (the Lutter submission came from strikes). Not a single one of those opponents got out of the second round.
In October 2008, Anderson Silva fought Patrick Cote at UFC 90. It was the first fight in Silva’s tenure with the UFC in which he did not finish his opponent and it was his first bout with the promotion to go past round two.
Cote lost by TKO in round three, but not directly because of anything Silva did. Instead, Cote’s knee gave out and he could not continue.
Silva was criticized for not trying to finish Cote off and his apparent contentment just to dance around, trying to make his opponent look foolish. The Champ was not taking damage, but at the same time, he was dishing out very little damage to an opponent most pundits agree he should have walked through.
The MMA community was in an uproar, wondering where this “new” Anderson Silva came from. Leading the parade of disapproval was UFC President, Dana White. White openly voiced his displeasure at the Champ’s performance and in the end chalked it up to an “off night” and called Silva “human.”
White also made the comment, he “felt sorry for his [Silva’s] next opponent” because Silva was unhappy with his showing and how the fight had been received.
Fast forward almost six months to UFC 97, April 18, 2009. UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is set to face Thales Leites, a BJJ specialist on a five fight win streak.
Leites certainly had a chance to win, but when you look at what Silva did to fighters like Marquardt, Lutter, Franklin, and Henderson, he was basically viewed as someone the Champ should be able to defeat rather handily.
Once again, things did not go as expected. Yes, Anderson Silva set the record for the most consecutive wins in UFC history with nine straight victories, but the Champ went the distance with a fighter many have argued he could have finished any time he wanted.
Critics insist the fight looked eerily similar to Silva’s last bout except Leites did not suffer an injury and the fight went the full title fight distance of five, five-minute rounds. Some have even called it “one of the worst fights in UFC history”. The sold out Bell Centre crowd in Montreal, Canada, booed through most of the fight.
UFC President Dana White has called the UFC 97 main event title fight between Silva and Leites “an embarrassment” and in a new interview with Inside Fighting, he called Silva “a former shell of himself.” Here is some of what the UFC President had to say regarding not only how Silva looked at UFC 97 but his future plans for the Champ:
“When he puts you in that clinch he starts hitting you with so many knees you are praying for an elbow or a fist. When you really look at this thing and break it down he’s a crazy talented guy. He’s the Andy Warhol of mixed martial arts. He’s a artist but he hasn’t been his last two fights. He’s a f_cking shell of what he once was and its not because he’s old or broken down or anything. Now, I’m going to push Anderson. I’m going to put Anderson in fights with guys who are not afraid of him, the guys that are going to f_cking come after him….we’re going to make Anderson fight again.”
At the UFC 97 post-fight press conference, White stated there are plenty of fighters in the light heavyweight division who will come at Silva and make it a fight if that is what he needs for motivation.
There has also been talk of Wanderlei Silva possibly moving to middleweight to fight the Champ. That is definitely one person that will not drop to his back when the Champ gets within striking distance.
By: Jack Bratcher