There’s an argument floating around the interwebs right now that Dana White is somehow to blame for Saturday night’s debacle simply for booking the fight in the first place. Kid Nate over at Bloody Elbow sums up the general idea:
Dana White has done an excellent job of deflecting blame for the disaster that was UFC 112 but ultimately, the fault lies with the man in charge. Dana White is the one who chose to headline UFC 112 with an Anderson Silva vs an obviously over-matched middleweight in Demian Maia.
… I predict that Dana White will seek to punish Silva rather than give him what he wants — interesting fights. I agree that Anderson Silva is a petulant jerk, but as a fan, I’d much rather see Silva in a series of interesting fights against off-the-wall opponents than doing yeoman’s work in gimme title defenses.
Much like your sister’s face, this argument is fundamentally flawed.
White promised a middleweight title defense by Anderson Silva at UFC 112 to fans watching on pay-per-view all around the world and to those who bought tickets to the show in Abu Dhabi. After Vitor Belfort was forced to back out, White was forced to find a replacement. After Chael Sonnen obliterated Nate Marquardt’s title hopes and subsequently stated that he himself would not be able to appear in the replacement slot, Demian Maia was the only logical replacement. Plain and simple.
On top of that, if Silva is acting the way he has been in the cage because he feels his opponents are far inferior to him, he should prove it emphatically in the Octagon. That means stopping guys like Leites and Maia, who have stand-up skills that aren’t in the same league as his own. After all, Silva is being paid to go out there and fight, not dance around the cage.
No matter what you think of the UFC president, to say that White is to blame for Silva’s inexplicable performance is insane. White put him in the cage with a world-class opponent. He didn’t deliver. Period.
And if Silva’s desire is to appear in big fights against GSP or any one of the heavyweight contenders, common sense indicates that he needs to not only dominate but finish his middleweight brethren. Skating to decision victories in odd fashion isn’t going to do it.
It’s that reason why I don’t think Silva’s performance had anything to do with some type of lashing out for not being in there against Fedor. Instead, I think Maia landed a couple good shots that made Silva realize his dreams of eventually retiring both undefeated in the UFC and as the most decorated champion in the company’s history were in jeopardy. For that reason, he decided to avoid engaging in order to secure victory.
I’m paraphrasing, but Silva was right when he said that not every fight is going to be the best ever, or even all that exciting. At the same time, when an athlete of his caliber has such obvious opportunities to deliver an exciting performance and a dominating finish yet fails to do so for no good reason, people are going to be a bit upset.