Anderson Silva. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Like it or not, Anderson Silva has changed.
Gone are the performances that Silva put on against Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, James Irvin, Travis Lutter, and Dan Henderson. They have been replaced with passive-aggressive performances against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites.
So what happened to him exactly? Many theories have been thrown around. Some have said that the UFC hasn’t been able to provide Silva with opponents of interest. Some say that he’s just bored with the sport. Others claim that he might be too interested in Roy Jones Jr and is trying to find his way out of the UFC.
But one new possibility that has come to light is the pressure of keeping the UFC’s middleweight title. Silva has already passed Matt Hughes’ mark for consecutive title defenses and is now approaching his all-time mark of nine. Has it all become too much for Anderson?
His trainer is hinting that it might be the case:
Sherdog.com: Some have said that Silva lost a lot of his aggressiveness after he left his muay Thai trainer, Diógenes Asahida, a black belt from Chute Boxe, and adopted a more tactical style under you. How do you respond to that criticism?
Distak: I analyze statistics. When Anderson faced Dan Henderson, he was already training with us; that fight had a lot of aggression and ended in a submission. Against James Irvin, there was a knock out. The last two fights, he was less aggressive because he had fought too much. He had a lot riding on that fight with Thales, not only to keep the title but to break the record of consecutive wins and [tie the record of consecutive] title defenses. Plus, there was the possibility of it going five rounds. People have to understand that it’s more difficult to keep a title than it is to win it. All that pressure can get to a fighter.
Sherdog.com: He’s coming in off of a five-round fight with all this pressure, and the UFC did not give him any time to rest. Plus, he has to fight one of the top guys in a heavier weight class. Is this good for him?
Distak: I think it’s very good for him because he has no pressure in a heavier weight class. The title is not in play. It’s three five-minute rounds. This fight will wake him up, and the fans will see the amazing Anderson Silva again.
Sherdog.com: Recently, Wanderlei Silva declared war on Anderson Silva. How do you see a potential fight between them?
Distak: That would be a great fight. Both come from aggressive schools, so I believe the man who’s best prepared and most skilled would win; that’s Anderson. If it’s for the belt, he would win however he had to, but if the UFC decided to promote it without the title on the line, I believe Anderson would knock out Wanderlei.
Does anyone else notice a trend here? Joshua Distak is continually using the middleweight title as an excuse as to why his client hasn’t been as aggressive in his past couple of fights.
I’m not buying it.
A lot of people out there have stated that Silva is strictly a counter-puncher and only provides highlight reel stoppages when his opponents are attacking him. If that’s the case, then why was he so intent on stopping his fights with Franklin, Marquardt, and Henderson?
Franklin wasn’t very aggressive while he was desperately trying to muscle his way out of Silva’s clinch and eating knees at the same time. Neither were Marquardt or Henderson while they were getting dropped and then pounded out and submitted.
If Silva is going to continue to fight unlike himself in middleweight title fights, then he’s going to lose. He won’t just lose his title, but he’ll be losing fans, his reputation as a dangerous fighter, and his relationship with the UFC in the process.
Has the weight of the title become too much for Anderson? I certainly hope not. Because once the time comes where a fighter can’t be inspired enough to go out there and give 100% in order to defend his title as the world’s top pound-for-pound fighter, it usually means it’s also time to get out.
Here’s to hoping that “The Spider” of old comes to work against Forrest Griffin, for his sake and ours.
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