July 16-The Shot Heard ‘Round the World
By Matt Benoliel THE FIGHTING NEWS REPORTER
Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman on July 16th, 2013 is quite simply, the most
significant UFC fight since Royce Gracie defeated his three opponents in UFC I
and brought Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to the eyes of the world. Mark my words-if you
watched Silva vs. Weidman, you have witnessed the future. The unbeatable
Anderson Silva has fallen, myths have been dispelled, and Chris Weidman
deserves the respect of every single MMA fan out there. Yet, there is still so
much controversy on the internet about who should have won the fight, the fight
being fixed, and other pure nonsense and speculation.
But I’ll let everyone else argue those points, and I’ll stick to why Weidman won,
and why this fight should be remembered for a long time. In ten years from now,
MMA fans will look back on July 16th, 2013 as a turning point in the sport.
For all intents and purposes, MMA is still in its infancy. The various martial arts,
boxing, and Greco-Roman wrestling have existed for thousands of years. The
UFC, twenty. Of course, it is remarkable to see how the sport has changed in the
past twenty years. Over the years, we have seen fighters evolve from a single
“style,” be it Karate, Sumo, Jiu-Jitsu, boxing or Kung-fu, to something entirely different.
The early days of the UFC was like the Stone Age, with fighters staying within
their individual styles, using simple tools with little insight into the world of their
competition. However, within a short period of time, it became clear that in order
to compete in MMA, fighters had to cross train, and certain arts emerged as the
most effective. These arts included Muay Thai, Boxing and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
But we also saw a new species rise with a certain advantage. Fighters who had
collegiate wrestling pedigree- guys like Dan “The Beast” Severn and Mark “The
Hammer” Coleman began to dominate. Later, marquis guys like Matt Hughes
and Tito Ortiz heralded in the Golden Age of the Wrestler in the UFC.
But for some reason, the stand-up game has not balanced the ground game, and
there are far fewer skillful strikers than there are skillful wrestlers in the UFC.
The strikers are, however, showing dominance. Light-heavyweight Jon Jones has
shown that he can end fights by either knockout or submission. Heavyweight
Cain Velasquez relies more heavily on his striking ability.
The Weidman-Silva fight demonstrated the need for balanced ability. In all the
clips I’ve seen of Anderson employing his lean back style, his opponents were
already fatigued, throwing punches one at a time with very little sense of timing or
distance, and often had a significant reach disadvantage. After throwing ill-timed
ghetto haymakers, those fighters left themselves open to one of Anderson’s
deadly accurate strikes. And Anderson would hit them with flying knees, reverse
elbows, hooks or kicks with often devastating results. But striking is only one
part of the stand-up game. Defense is the other.
For all the flash and excitement in Anderson’s stand-up game, there were still
serious areas of concern with his ability to defend himself. With all of his
experience, Anderson should have realized that after failing to connect with his
hands for one and a half rounds of fighting that Weidman was a completely
different fighter. Weidman took him down in the first round, beat him up a little on
the ground, got back to his feet, threw punches in combination, evaded strikes
with head movement, and even showed Anderson that he could drop his guard
and play Anderson’s game as well. Did Silva really think that his lean back style
would work against a man who keeps moving forward?
In between rounds, Ray Longo instructed Weidman to punch a hole through
Anderson’s chest. Luckily for Anderson, Weidman went to the head instead.
Let’s face it, Weidman is one strong dude, and the final seconds of the fight were
brilliant. Weidman punches, Anderson leans back. Then Anderson is forced to
lean back a little more when Weidman follows his overhand right with a short
backfist that turns Silva’s head and suddenly there was no more leaning room for Silva. Lights out.
With his defeat of Anderson Silva, Chris Weidman just raised the bar, and every
MMA fighter and trainer, especially in the middleweight division, should take note.
With world-class wrestling skills, knockout power in his hands, and the ability to
throw punches and kicks in combination, Weidman is going to give a lot of guys a
hard time. Weidman is the future.