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Did Silva temper Weidman's win?


Did Anderson Silva's antics diminish Chris Weidman's performance?


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Talk has centered around Silva

McNeil By Franklin McNeil

Since Chris Weidman knocked out longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva on Saturday night, very little praise has been heaped on him. And that's a shame.

Most of the postfight conversation has centered on Silva's performance or lack thereof, and his antics inside the cage. For the most part, Weidman has been an afterthought. It's as if no one wants to take seriously his performance in the main event at UFC 162.

A high-level wrestler and jiu-jitsu practitioner, Weidman opened the contest by taking Silva to the ground, delivering heavy punches and elbows. Seconds later he applied a heel hook. But Silva is a solid defender on the ground and eventually escaped the submission attempt and got back to his feet.

Weidman won the opening round easily; it's what took place in the next that left many jaws agape, heads shaking and a significant number of onlookers refusing to give Weidman his full due for taking out the great champion.

Silva got on his bicycle in the second round, utilizing his footwork to create as much distance as possible between himself and Weidman. He wasn't going to play on the ground again with this middleweight contender any more.

Desperate to keep the fight standing, Silva dug deep into his boxing and kick boxing bag of tricks. It's the two areas where he usually has a significant advantage over his mixed martial arts opponents. And it's where Silva is most masterful.

He stuffed a takedown attempt, landed a few leg kicks and slipped some of Weidman's jabs. Silva appeared to have regained control of the bout -- and he was back in his comfort zone. But Silva knew Weidman still presented a serious threat, so he had to do something else to lessen the odds of being taken down again.

Silva needed to get in Weidman's head. So he began taunting Weidman by dropping his hands, sticking his chin out and employing the challenger to try to hit him.

He has used this tactic against previous opponents and Weidman almost fell for the trick. But unlike those before him, Weidman gathered himself and returned to his fight game. And much to Silva's surprise, Weidman possesses good head movement and punching power.

With his hands down and head moving backward, Silva got clipped by a Weidman left hook. Silva put himself in a vulnerable position, but he often does so  surviving those moments is part of his aura.

The risks Silva took were necessary to get in Weidman's head and keep the fight standing, but this time he paid greatly. Weidman did what others couldn't Saturday night -- staying focused and finishing the job -- and he deserves more praise for his accomplishment.

Weidman won on all fronts

Gross By Josh Gross

There isn't an aspect of Anderson Silva's antic-filled performance Saturday that diminishes what Chris Weidman accomplished.

People believing otherwise are plain wrong. Suggesting the facts of Weidman's stunning win, which came as Silva showed no respect and clowned around with his hands down, somehow soil the undefeated American's historic victory is silly.

Weidman gained everything and gave nothing. Where's the harm, then?

The truth is, what went down Saturday doesn't reflect poorly on the new champion. Just the opposite. It adds to Weidman's lore.

He is the first fighter to put Silva on the Octagon canvas for good.

This can't be stressed enough. Discussion of some nefarious fix certainly won't spoil Weidman's win, either. Really, this kind of talk serves to drum up more interest in the rematch, which everyone expects will be a major financial success for Weidman, Silva and the UFC.

Controversy sells, and Weidman benefits.

Naysayers are also disregarding the fact that Silva acted a fool in other contests; yet, prior to last weekend, he hadn't faced anyone capable of making him pay. Weidman's recognition of when to step in with a left hook and his perfect execution in that moment were pristine.

Staking out a position that Weidman's timing, delivery and bad intentions should be dismissed solely because of Silva's monumental error is comical.

That isn't fair to the new champion. At all. And, moreover, critics are totally missing the beauty of what Weidman was able to pull off. His knockout wasn't fluky or shady. Yes, Silva failed to protect himself, and that should be remembered. After all, it led directly to the "oh my God" moment when Weidman put Silva away, which prompted some to surmise that Silva was mostly to blame for installing a new champion. This is true only in the way Oakland A's closer Dennis Eckersley is responsible for Los Angeles Dodger Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series. Gibson looked for a 3-2 backdoor slider. Eckersley delivered. Gone, goodbye.

Want to know how I'm sure Silva's antics haven't had a negative effect on Weidman?

Media jumped on the American champion's bandwagon. He conducted a day's worth of interviews in New York on Wednesday, and will head to ESPN headquarters in Bristol, Conn., Thursday to do a series of TV shows and appearances. This is just the start for a well-spoken, good looking, clean cut, undefeated New Yorker. And none of that happens without the win over Silva -- however it manifested or whatever you think about it.