UFC president Dana White looked to be just as disappointed with the performance of Anderson Silva in his showdown with Demian Maia at UFC 112 as the rest of the press, the crowd present in the arena, and me.
But he showed why he’s the right man for the right job, at the post-event press conference. Dana appeared on the scene before the fighters did and went on the defensive by asking forgiveness before taking the first question. He said he was embarrassed by what transpired in the fight and that he would make it up to the Abu Dhabi crowd present at the event, and those who bought the pay-per-view. He just doesn’t know how yet.
I won’t go as far as saying I’m close with Anderson Silva, but I’ve known him for over ten years, and I’ve never seen him mistreat anyone, nor assume an unsporting attitude. Much the contrary, he always referred to the other fighters as “master”. Even in his fight with Thales Leites, which was a snore, he didn’t overstep the boundaries into respect.
With Demian, however, he went on a gloating spree. He spent five rounds cursing, gesticulating, imitating other fighters and without ever getting the point he was making across, which was that he could end the fight at any moment. The result: in nearly 20 years of following MMA events, it was the first time I’d ever seen a fighter enter the ring with 100% of the stadium behind him, and leave with 100% against him, even after winning.
Anderson was the last fighter to show up at the press conference. Several questions came to mind, but I didn’t ask one. I didn’t feel it would help readers, at that moment, had I put the champion against the ropes. But nor did I need to, since the other journalists didn’t feel the same restraint. He started out by saying Demian had disrespected him as a martial artist, as a black belt. Another reporter asked how, and he muddled an answer and repeated the same thing. But my colleague was unsatisfied and again inquired about what exactly Demian had done.
He had said some things, according to Anderson, and gave the example, that “the spider had four (sic) legs, and Demian was going to get one of them.” Nothing too brash, is it? Perhaps it wasn’t about the statements, but the way they were made. It doesn’t matter. Truth is that if Demian really did discredit Anderson Silva’s status as a black belt teacher, he was right to.
Think about it, nothing and nobody can take away Anderson’s merit as an MMA fighter. He has repeatedly proven himself among the best of all times. And the disparity between him and his adversaries standing, as I’ve written before, truly is equivalent to the difference between a black belt and a white or blue belt in Jiu-Jitsu in training, as an example for the masses of readers who train in the gi to better understand.
The problem is that technique is of least importance in qualifying someone as a black belt. Technique is acquired over the years when you are in fact in the academy learning values. And among them is respect. Respect for your father, mother, wife, husband, the hierarchy, strangers and, mainly, your opponent.
And if with that humiliation spectacle he imposed on Demian Saturday night Anderson wanted to prove he is a black belt, he managed to achieve the exact opposite. To make matters worse, his attitude contrasted with that of Demian, who held his head up, fought to the very end, even humiliated and with a cracked nose, and never lost respect, as you would expect from a black belt.