UFC: Anderson Silva, Clown or Brilliant Strategist?

Anderson Silva

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Many fans thought the actions of Anderson Silva inside the cage in his first-ever UFC loss were disrespectful and shameful. His actions were viewed as disrespectful toward the sport and toward the newly-minted champion Chris Weidman.

The truth, however, is not that simple. Silva has played this game before and knew exactly what he was doing.

Longtime fans of the UFC have seen Silva’s so-called ‘clowning’ on more than one occasion. In fact, some of Silva’s greatest accolades have been garnered from fights where he completely outclassed and clowned his opponent, most recently against Forrest Griffin, Yushin Okami and Stephan Bonnar.

What some fans see as clowning is actually an elaborate game plan enacted by Silva to entice his opponents into a striking match. Hands at the hips exuding complete disdain for his opponents’ striking, Silva persuades his challengers to stand and trade instead of doing what they most often ought to do: take the fight to the ground.

The lowering of his hands also allows Silva to more easily defend takedown attempts. There is, after all, an apparent method to the madness.

The threats that Weidman posed on the ground were apparent very early in their title fight at UFC 162, and Silva quickly realized that he needed to stay off his back. His clowning noticeably annoyed Weidman. Late in the first round, it seemed like the only thing on Weidman’s mind was to put a fist into Silva’s face, and this frustration carried over into the second round.

Silva’s clowning had managed to keep the fight in a position which gave him the best chance of success. His game plan to keep the fight standing actually worked exceedingly well.

Unfortunately for Silva, he lacked the smooth and brilliant counter-striking and avoidance he normally employs in the octagon. He brimmed with overconfidence. Nearly every time Weidman connected with a strike, Silva laughed, shook his head or feigned being hurt. In the end, Silva’s brilliance was outdone by his own hubris.

Silva’s game plan backfired. He continued to fight with his hands down long after persuading Weidman to strike with him. The fact is Silva was too comfortable in his own environment, and he paid the price. He got caught.

Many of Silva’s recent fights have been against strong grapplers with relatively mediocre striking prowess. His previous opponents had no answer to this environment Silva creates, but Weidman did. Silva is undoubtedly one of the best fighters in MMA history, but no one is immune to a perfectly placed left hook on the jaw.

It is hard to say what to expect in their inevitable rematch. While this time off will certainly give Silva and his team time to ponder the correct approach, it will undoubtedly also give the young Weidman time to improve as well. If Silva is able to correct his mistakes in the rematch, it could set in motion one of the greatest trilogies the sport has seen yet.

A motivated and hungry Anderson Silva is not one to be trifled with.

Andy Toth is a MMA Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndyToth5, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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  • xSamWaynex

    As the first but hopefully not last to comment on this article I would like to say firstly that it was well written, and well thought out. That being said I do have to say that while I completely agree that AS is probably the best MMA fighter in recent history, and very well could go down as “TBOAT” I think too much credit is being given to AS game plan failing, and not enough credit is being given to Chris Weidman’s punching power, and ability to connect against one of the most evasive fighters in MMA history. Silva KNEW that Weidman had knock out power. And while we can all agree that Silva’s striking is leaps and bounds above almost everyone in the sport right now, you can never discount the old adage “a punch and a prayer.” Weidman did what no one has been able to do in the octagon, and that is beat Anderson Silva at his own game. The only other person to even come close to beating Silva is Chael P. Sonnen, and we all know how well that worked out. The last time Silva “clowned” this badly was against Damian Maia, and he certainly didn’t gain any fans after that fight. I personally think it was about time he got his clock cleaned. His hype, not his actual talent, has been winning his fights for him for the past few years now. Hopefully this will have popped his over inflated ego, or at the very least caused a leak.

    • Andy Toth

      Thank you for the comment Sam, and I couldn’t agree more. Too many fans and analysts attribute the result of the fight more to Silva’s failures than Weidman’s successes. However in this particular article I wanted to focus on the reasons behind Silva’s antics and explain that his clowning isn’t just him being cocky and disrespectful, rather, it has a purpose and that he actually did manage to keep the fight standing with Weidman because of this. One thing is for certain, there will be a TON of debate on how the rematch will go and I’m sure I will be writing about it soon. Keep posted, and thank you for the read.

      • xSamWaynex

        I hear the rematch is supposed to be happening at UFC 168, although Silva has backed out of fights before, and of course there are always cancellations due to injury, so there’s always the possibility that it will happen at a later date. Whenever it does happen, I don’t see Silva winning a rematch. Weidman won’t be taunted into standing with Anderson again, and his wrestling is far better than AS is. That being said if it does go the ground AS is no slouch when it comes to Jiu-Jitsu either. So there’s always the chance that AS could end it with a submission off of his back. Then again, Weidman, while not being a black belt in rank, he has competed, and won a few grappling tournaments, so AS might have a harder time putting Weidman away by submission, than he did against Chael. In any case I’m looking forward to the fight. It will be the first time that AS has had to bounce back from a loss in the octagon. The only thing I hope for is that AS has lost some of his cockiness. I REALLY hope this loss was enough to get him to be humble again. All fighters have to be confident, but AS went past the line of confident, and strayed into cocky. While that wasn’t all his fault, I still hope that this loss was enough to get him off that pedestal, that so many of his fans put him on.

        • Andy Toth

          I expect Weidman could be too much for Silva on the mat, and will be focusing on getting the takedown more than in their first fight. Weidman was extremely dominant on the mat even in those first few minutes of the fight, and he looks for the finish. It will be a tough fight for Silva especially, as he in my opinion only really has one way to win this fight: getting a KO on the feet. I don’t think he is slick enough to submit Weidman off his back, and Weidman’s pressuring for takedowns should give him most of the rounds. We will see at UFC 168.

          • xSamWaynex

            We all saw how AS did against a superior wrestler in Sonnen….well in their first fight anyway. And while Weidman isn’t as elite a wrestler as Sonnen is, I believe he will be going for more submissions, and he also happens to hit a lot harder than Sonnen does, so a GnP finish definitely isn’t out of the question either. I honestly think that Anderson will probably retire from MMA if he loses this rematch with Weidman. What are your thoughts?

          • Andy Toth

            I get that impression as well, that Silva could definitely retire with a loss. You have to wonder how motivated he really is for this rematch…Lyoto Machida had mentioned that maybe Silva didn’t want the rematch, but the UFC did.

            Of course we have never seen Silva come back from a loss, but we have seen what he can do in a rematch. He came back MUCH better prepared for Sonnen in their second fight. It is certainly the fight I look forward to most for the rest of the year.