There’s a reason people bet on a horse because they think the name is clever and that they fill out March Madness brackets based on teams’ mascots. Superstition surrounds all sports events and Saturday night, in hindsight, was ripe for it.
It seemed too fitting that the “All-American” reigned victorious two days after Independence Day, when Chris Weidman dethroned Anderson Silva at UFC 162. But there were other intangibles saturated with eerie coincidence.
For example, the number 11: Weidman’s 11th win ended Silva’s 11 successful title belt defenses. Also, the contenders matched up more evenly than any other opponents on the card. At the weigh-in, Silva and Weidman measured up exactly in height (6-foot-2), weight (185), with just a three-inch difference in reach advantage to Weidman.
The only major difference between the two is the large discrepancy between their longevity in the league, though not necessarily their dominance. The Spider had a record of 33-5-0 and was on a 17-win streak. Weidman was 9-0-0. But there are intangibles behind those statistics and one is momentum — Weidman on his way up and Silva on his way out.
In 2010, fighter Matt Serra introduced fans to Weidman on a video blog series, and predicted he would one day be champion. Exactly 40 months later, prediction would become prophecy. Perhaps Weidman’s comment to Joe Rogan that he was “destined” to reign supreme was most fitting. “I imagined it so many times,” he continued, “but it still feels surreal.”
As for Silva, any UFC fan, veteran or novice, wouldn’t dare clarify the former champ as a humble man. Showboating is more his trademark than any of his throws. In the Octagon Saturday night, Silva dropped his hands, and laughed at his opponent whenever Weidman’s throws didn’t land.
But when the All-American’s left hand fell on the downed Silva 78 seconds into the second round, the former champ’s bow-out was much more graceful. After all the dissing, Silva admitted “respect” for his defeater.
Saving face? For another parallel, let’s go 98 fight cards back when Silva took the belt from Rich Franklin, with the same weight, age, and an inch apart in height. The fight was not so even, ending in a TKO in the first round in favor of the Spider. Seven years later, Silva lost his title in the first TKO of his career.
In sports, there are always poetic justices, but there are two significant standouts in this bout that set it apart from historical precedence. First is that Weidman’ six-fight UFC win-streak is the longest of any active fighter in the middleweight division and secondly, a victory at UFC 162 led to Weidman becoming the first undefeated titleholder since Cain Velasquez.
These bullet points should stand ahead of weight, height and reach. Poems aside, the middleweight title was well-earned.