Since Anderson Silva’s extremely disappointing UFC 97 showing two general arguments have emerged regarding his performance. The first puts the blame on UFC matchmaking and more specifically Thales Leites for not pressing Silva to the point where he even needed to fight a real fight. The second lambastes Silva for wasting an opportunity to finish an opponent who clearly could have been executed by the third round. While I cannot disregard Leites’ role in what can only be described as an epic failure, I am undeniably more inclined to side with the latter argument. Put simply, I blame Silva. No excuses.
Could you at least try to fight, please?
When I think about Anderson Silva’s decision to display leg punching and occasional pop n’ lock moves on Saturday night as opposed to legitimate combat, I can’t help but recall something my father used to say to my brothers and I when we were younger. Whether it was little league, math class (I still have nightmares), or learning how to drive, pops would always say “I don’t care if you fail, I only care if you don’t try”. That echoing phrase in the back of my mind sums up my rationale for being so disgusted with Silva. I don’t care if The Spyder ever finishes another opponent again, I am concerned and bothered by the fact that twice now, Silva has looked as if he had everything else in the world but fighting on his agenda when he took center stage in the main event of a $44.95 pay-per-view.
It is his job, after all
Let me ask you something, could you walk into your job tomorrow and half-ass it all day just because you feel that the tasks at hand are too easy and beneath you? Perhaps you could get away with that for a little while depending on where you work, but eventually you’d get canned (especially in this economy) without so much as a decent reference. My point is that Anderson Silva is an employee of the UFC, and just like any other type of employee he has a job description, albeit more implied than written. Silva’s job is to utilize his talents in an effort to defeat an opponent, regardless of how lousy that opponent may be. Sadly, The Spyder has clearly forgotten this simple credo somewhere along the line.
Even if our champion is not concerned with entertaining fans, the obligation to his employer remains the same. When the now infamous Kalib Starnes ran away from Nate Quarry for three rounds, no one blamed Quarry for his goofy (and glorious) antics because it was obvious that Quarry was trying to engage and attack his opponent. The same could not have been said for Silva in his last two outings.
I don’t care who he is
Some have said that because he is our undisputed god-like middleweight champion, Anderson Silva is held to a less strict standard than the average UFC Joe. Well that is complete and utter B.S. If anything, champions should be held to an even higher standard, to perform to the very best of their ability no matter who flops on the canvas and pulls guard in front of them all night. Let’s be honest, if an unknown, up and coming fighter who the UFC took a chance on phoned in the same performance that Silva did, he would be cut faster than Nicole Brown in ’94 Brock Lesnar from the Minnesota Vikings.
Explain how being the champion warrants any leniency regarding atrocious performances. You get paid significantly better, earn much more sponsorship money, and most importantly the UFC puts their brand name behind you 100% in terms of building pay-per-views, public appearances, etc. Your title as a UFC champion provides the opportunity to earn and enjoy an enormous variety of endorsement deals and perks that other common men could only dream of. Don’t take that for granted.
The bottom line
If we are being fair, we cannot expect Anderson Silva to put a severe beating on every single opponent that steps in front of him. However if nothing else we should expect, and deserve, to see a fighter do the very thing that comprises the prefix of his title. If they can’t (or won’t) do that, why are they even practicing the sport, let alone on the UFC’s esteemed roster.