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The central question leading up to UFC 117 concerns UFC
breakdancer middleweight champion Anderson Silva. Most MMA fans want to know which Silva will show up on August 7th. Will it be the focused, determined Silva who made short work of Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Dan Henderson and others? Or will it be the impetuous, infantile Silva who was more interested in dancing and mugging for the camera against Demian Maia?
While this is an appropriate question to ask about Silva, I believe there's a better, more relevant version of the same question. Does Anderson Silva even understand why his actions, especially against Demian Maia, aren't acceptable? Does Anderson Silva get it?When questioned about his behavior in interviews, Anderson Silva largely ducks and dodges the question as artfully as he does his opponent's punches and kicks.
Anderson largely avoids these questions, hiding behind manager Ed Soares. At UFC 112, Anderson seemed to be sorry immediately after the match when speaking to the crowd, but at the post-fight press conference he dropped any pretensions and said he "owed nobody an apology" and "couldn't please everyone". As noted in my piece on MMA's biggest heels, he also condescendingly remarked that
"You know, they’re here, they’re fans, they pay for the PPV and sometimes the fans don’t understand exactly what’s going on inside the Octagon."
This complete lack of remorse following UFC 112 is a troubling sign for MMA fans. Worse, he doesn't really seem to acknowledge or understand why his behavior was unacceptable. Trying to turn around 5 rounds of dancing and disrespect and blame the fans for not understand his master strategy shows a complete lack of awareness on Silva's part.
Obviously, all of the official UFC promotional videos leading up to Silva vs Sonnen at UFC 117 make almost no mention of Silva's previous debacles. However, there is an interesting line by Silva near the end of his pre-fight hype video.
"I'm going into this fight well trained technically, mentally and physically, and I'm going to give it my all. If there's one thing I can tell my fans and everyone that's watching, it's that I'm going to go in there and give the best performance I can."
Now, this may just be meaningless hype for his fight. But that line from Silva tacitly admits that he knows people are angry at him, and he's trying to earn their trust and their loyalty back. Making that kind of obvious reference to his fans and viewers shows that maybe something has gotten through to Silva.
The bottom line is that Anderson's behavior at UFC 112 was completely intolerable and there really aren't any excuses. Anderson's bouts against Cote and Leites were boring and hard to watch, but much of the blame for those two fights falls on the challengers as well as the champion. UFC 112 was different. The dancing and disrespect were completely uncalled for, and Silva was completely uninterested in attempting to finish his opponent. Multiple reports suggest that Silva was insulting Maia in Portuguese, calling him a 'playboy' (a class/race driven insult in Brazil). By the end of the fight, Maia was charging at Silva throwing wild haymakers, and Silva could have easily knocked him out (ask Chris Leben how well charging at Anderson Silva works). Instead of trying to finish the fight, Silva was content pull a Kalib Starnes and circle away aimlessly, with only the occasional showboating and dancing to break the monotony.
As fans, we can only hope that Anderson Silva now gets it. Hopefully, sometime between the UFC 112 post-fight press conference and UFC 117, someone in Anderson's camp has made it clear to him how bad he looks. Hopefully Ed Soares can put his fist down and tell Anderson that he needs to quit the theatrics and return to fighting. Hopefully Dana White scared him straight with his impromptu 'Come to Jesus' meeting after UFC 112. Hopefully Anderson Silva gets it. If he still doesn't, we may be in for a long night come UFC 112.