Regardless of who you are a fan of, tonight’s fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman probably left you feeling rather empty on the inside. For Chris Weidman fans tonight was Weidman’s chance to prove that he really is the UFC Middleweight Champion and that all of his hard work has paid off, that he’s earned his place and his respect. Weidman was looking to prove that the first victory over one of the consensus best of all time was anything but a fluke, but it was not to be. For Anderson Silva fans it was one last chance at redemption for the best in the world, a chance for one of the most dynamic and exciting fighters of all time to show one last glimmer of what endeared him to fans.
Of course none of that happened at UFC 168, instead the finish to the fight leaves more questions than answers and there will most likely be a debate for ages as to what would have happened if it wasn’t for Anderson Silva’s fluke leg break. When it comes to sports — or any form of entertainment — there is always a narrative to grasp to, something to take away at the end and feel some sort of closure to. Of course, life is not like that all of the time, most of the time things are closer to a shade of grey than they are black or white. Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman II leaves us with that hollow feeling on the inside, with no choice but to move on and drop all of our presumptions, hopes and dreams. We continue without resolution.
There was no resolution at UFC 168. Chris Weidman walked away as the UFC Middleweight Champion but if there were doubts still hanging in the air about his first victory those same doubts will be there for the second, as it came via a freak injury stoppage. Now, if you want to be technical, I would have probably stopped the fight in the first round. Weidman connected with a right hand and was pummeling Anderson really hard while Anderson wasn’t protecting himself. Was he able to continue? Sure. Should he have? Probably not. That being said, Herb Dean let the fight continue to that is a moot point for the time being.
For Chris Weidman there will most likely be no rematch with Anderson Silva, no chance to prove himself to the doubters that still exist. Chris Weidman’s UFC Middleweight Championship run will always include footnotes, ones that he’ll never be able to wash away. Chances are that Anderson Silva at 38 years old won’t make a full return to the UFC thanks to the injury and if he does return, he won’t be ready for a fight against a fighter the caliber of Chris Weidman and might never be. This leaves Weidman on to what looks to be a promising career as a Champion but will most likely be haunted by questions and doubts revolving around Anderson Silva.
For Anderson Silva he had nothing left to prove to anyone, but clearly had his own motivations going into this fight. There has been talk of him retiring for a while now, but for one of the fighters who will go down in history as one of the best of all time he won’t be given the luxury of going out on his own terms like Georges St-Pierre did. Instead, Anderson faces a long road ahead of surgery, therapy and the general recovery process to find himself walking normally again, never mind looking like an unstoppable martial artist. Anderson Silva won’t get a heroic sendoff and his storied career ends not even with a whimper, but ends off camera via a technicality as if nothing ever truly mattered.
For everyone else there is no happy ending, either, but there is something to take away from it. There is a moral to this story somewhere, deep in the mire that is Anderson Silva vs. Chris Weidman II, the muck that was the lead-up to it and the insignificance of which fighter your prefer. In a way, I feel like Tommy Lee Jones’ Sheriff Ed Tom Bell did at the end of No Country for Old Men; left in the wake of an ever-changing world where no one is good or evil and no one who plays the game escapes unharmed or satisfied. The game continues and might never end, but the lesson to take away from it is that there will always be something to learn from cases like this. There will always be these larger-than-life characters who are chasing a dream, fortune, glory or a gold belt and while it might look like they are living a privileged life, it can be just as empty and fruitless as any other life can be.
It’s moments like this that push us to self-reflection, that push us to wonder where we are going, what we are doing and to re-evaluate our concepts of the hero paradigm that we’ve been taught for so many years. Anderson Silva had one of the best careers a MMA fighter could ever hope for, yet it looks like his career ends with this horrific leg break. Chris Weidman is just starting out what could be a fantastic career and his crowning moments are weighed down by doubt and controversy. Fans of both fighters walk away from UFC 168 with one of the most postmodern endings to a storied rivalry with no sense of closure.
Why? Because there isn’t always closure in life, that’s why.