Sunday, July 7, 2013

R-E-S-P-E-C-T/Passing the Torch

There were two things that were evident during and after Saturday night's UFC middleweight championship fight between former champ Anderson 'Spider' Silva (far left) and new champ Chris Weidman (near right); the first was respect, or lack thereof. The second was a passing of the torch from a gracious former champion to the new kid on the block; first for the former, R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

The first lesson taught in any martial art is respect. Respect for the art, respect for your teacher and most importantly, respect towards your opponent. This trait was ingrained into me 13 years ago when I stared training in martial arts. I remember vividly getting ready to roll on the mats for the first time ever after only a month of training with none other than the my instructor Master Lee Arnold. One of the things he talked to me about was "never underestimating your opponent."

Here was a master of martial arts who had trained for over 30 years and he told me, "As I get ready to get on this mat with you, I treat you like everyone else. I have no idea what you are capable of, thus I cannot let my guard down." That was before he proceeded to wrap me up like a pretzel and pummel me for nearly an hour; however, that's a story for another day.

The moral of the story is what I'm getting to in terms of Anderson Silva's clear lack of respect towards Chris Weidman on Saturday night. Though, I don't think it was a lack of respect as much as it was Silva game planning, yet underestimating Weidman's ability. I truly believe after the first round, where Silva quickly found himself on his back after a Weidman take down, he was goading Weidman into a stand up war where he clearly had the advantage; that was until he took it too far.

Gamesmanship and even showmanship is one thing, but when you play with fire you can expect to be burned. I don't care who you are; the great Anderson Silva found this out the hard way. After continuously taunting his opponent and not taking things serious in the cage, the greatest of all-time got caught with a left hook that... well you can see the result in the photo above. The rest, as they say, is history.

Thus, after 17 straight wins and a title run that lasted nearly seven years, Anderson Silva's reign is over. On one hand it is sad because it quite possibly didn't have to end yet, though that would be me disrespecting Weidman by assuming he would not have won anyway. On the other hand though, and this is the one Silva is looking at, it is good. That is because it is a weight that has been lifted off his shoulders. I think Joe Rogan said it best after the fight when he said, "We cannot begin to imagine what the pressure must be like to have to constantly live up to being told you are the greatest of all-time."

That said, while I don't believe Anderson went into the fight trying to lose, he didn't appear to be too bothered by it. In typical Anderson Silva fashion, he was gracious in defeat, congratulating Weidman, asking fans to give him his just due as the new champion and stating, "He is the best now." That statement was also about something else.

By making that statement and then saying he will no longer fight for the title, that was Anderson Silva, the greatest of all-time, passing the torch to Chris Weidman. However, I don't think Anderson would have done this for just anyone who might have beaten him along the way. After all I said above, Silva does have respect for Weidman and it showed in his gesture towards the young champion after his post fight interview.

Silva went over to Weidman and in the middle of the cage he not only embraced him, but hugged him for an extended period while he spoke some words to him. To me it was obvious he was telling the new champ in no specific words, this is your time now; make sure you don't take it for granted and defend with respect and honor. Kind of ironic when you think about it isn't it?

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