Anderson Silva: athlete or entertainer?

Dana White, the man who refuses to apologize for verbally assaulting a female journalist, found it necessary to do so on behalf of Anderson Silva after last Saturday night’s title fight. As a promoter, White has reason to be upset with his middleweight champion.

Silva’s last two performances inside the Octagon are not the type that encourages bloodthirsty-casual-fans to shell out $49.99. However, the reactions of those who are not responsible for the UFC’s bottom line are a bit befuddling.

To the surprise of no one, the blogosphere has been going crazy. After all, that is what the blogosphere does. Basically, the crux of their anger comes from the fact that people are under the impression that Anderson Silva has a duty and responsibility to entertain.

Perhaps these people need to remember MMA is a sport and not sports entertainment. Sports are about competition. If entertainment is what you seek, you might want to check out Channing Tatum starring in Fighting in theaters this Friday.

Those who are demanding that Silva shape up and start going for the gusto should consider their comments in the context of a fully established sport. Back in 2000, the Baltimore Ravens were basically allergic to offense. They relied on their running game and defense. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the season they ended up being world champions.

Despite their boring and completely non-viewer-friendly style of play, there were no calls for the team to start airing it out or throwing Hail Marys on every down. Of course not, because football is an established sport and the NFL is an established league.

Fans follow sports due to the competition, and not because it is an exciting spectacle. Those who have been following MMA for years have long hoped the sport could be considered a serious athletic endeavor. Now, those who are demanding that Silva respond to Mortal Kombat-like calls of “Finish Him” are lumping the sport in with the likes of professional wrestling, slamball, and full contact arm wrestling.

In real sports, winning is what is really important. In both of Silva’s last two performances neither opponent came close to actually winning the fight. Only Silva knows why he fights the way he fights, but he is still racking up victories in a dominant fashion.

Despite disgust from the populous, he has successfully defended the UFC Middleweight Title five times (should have been six if Lutter had made weight) and set the UFC record for most consecutive wins. Instead of complaining about the fashion in which Silva wins, fans should understand they are lucky enough to be watching the athletic prime of a surefire MMA legend.

By:  Richard Mann