Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 | 2 a.m.
Chris Weidman detonates a pipe bomb of vitriol anytime he fires off as little as a harmless tweet.
A large portion of UFC fans still can’t accept that Weidman defeated long-reigning middleweight champion Anderson Silva two months ago at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. The 29-year-old from New York sees it every time he interacts on social media.
“You’re going to die next fight; angry Anderson Silva is going to smoke you; you stink,” Weidman rattled off examples of messages he regularly receives.
Heading into their rematch in the main event of UFC 168 on Dec. 28 at MGM, there’s a sense that Weidman didn’t take the first fight as much as Silva gave it to him. That Weidman’s second-round knockout of the greatest fighter in UFC history is somehow lessened because Silva went through his routine of putting his hands down and clowning his opponent like a Barnum & Bailey act.
That attitude is as absurd as wishing death upon a professional athlete on the Internet. It’s apparent a tipping point has been reached when all of a sudden Silva — who answers 90 percent of the questions he’s asked from the media with either “no,” “it’s normal” or “I here for fight” — is the one discharging the voice of reason.
“People need to respect this guy because this guy killed me,” Silva said Tuesday at a local UFC 168 press-tour stop in the MGM Grand lobby.
To use Silva’s own word, his performance at UFC 162 was normal. He taunted Weidman the same way he did most of his opponents over the past four years, the same way the challenger instructed his training partners to mimic in camp.
Had Silva’s showmanship accompanied him to a victory, those downgrading Weidman’s win would have reveled at their pronouncement of another masterpiece. But because Weidman came in prepared for Silva’s antics and capable of taking advantage, it’s a fluke?
“This is my style,” Silva attempted to remind everyone Tuesday. “I’ve been working very hard for a long time in UFC. I have the great fights in here in the same position and same style. I don’t change nothing.”
He shouldn’t. His quirks are part of his mystique, part of his legacy.
Silva is too smart, too tactically brilliant to appease those in denial over his loss by altering his approach. He knows it’s not necessarily going to give him a better chance for a different outcome.
Weidman is not Silva’s inferior. At minimum, he’s an equal. But an equal made to feel otherwise every time he checks his phone.
“It motivates me,” Weidman said. “I want to prove people wrong. I like being the underdog. I like having that feeling where people think I’m going to lose and then I prove them wrong.”
“Underdog” was quite the choice of words. If Weidman ventured through the casino-floor jungle of slot machines to the sports book, he would have found out it wasn’t accurate.
Although Weidman was more than a 2-to-1 underdog against Silva before the first fight, oddsmakers set the line at pick’em for the rematch. Anyone really paying attention knows the truth.
Anyone holding on to the opposite illusion needs to drop it as fast as Silva’s tumble to the canvas after feeling Weidman’s right hand.
“A lot of people still think he was playing around last fight and this time he’s not going to play around and I’m in big trouble,” Weidman said, subtlety and rightfully rolling his eyes.
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