When the fight between Anderson Silva and Demian Maia was arranged there were some who questioned whether this might be a repeat of the lackluster fight that occurred between Silva and Thales Leites in April of ’09. Unfortunately that proved to be the case in a frustrating five round title fight.
In the opening round Silva showed his striking dominance by nearly taking Maia off his feet with a leg kick, and later connecting with a flying knee that sent Maia to the canvas. Even at this early stage it looked as if it was only a matter of time before Silva finished him, but instead of looking to take him out in the second round he began showboating and taunting Maia for not engaging with him.
At first it was comical, but it quickly became farcical as Silva appeared to forget what he had came here to do and became almost a mirror image of his opponent, not engaging and appearing content just to ride out the remaining rounds.
In a bizarre role-reversal it became Maia who was throwing his hands up in frustration at his opponents refusal to engage in the latter rounds. The BJJ expert was still offering little himself though, appearing hesitant in the stand-up, and being shutdown quickly when attempting takedowns.
In the fifth round he did land a brief flurry of punches which caught Silva by surprise, but any hopes that it would wake up the champion were quickly dashed as we went back to circling round the cage. It got to the stage where even referee Dan Mirgliotta had had enough, pausing the fight to warn Silva for stalling.
To a chorus of boos from the Abu Dhabi crowd the fight ended, and Silva retained his belt. His face showed no damage, but this was a fight that will certainly have damaged his reputation. He has all the skill in the world, and on his day may well be the best fighter in the sport, but his attitude and temperament leave a lot to be desired at times.
In some ways I understand his own frustration. Many of the opponents he faces, such as Maia, Leites and Cote for instance come in with an ultra-conservative gameplan and minimal offense. Personally in that situation I feel Silva should just be crushing them and moving on to the next fight, but instead his ego appears to get the better of him and he toys with them rather than finishing them off which ends up reflecting badly on him.
No doubt the UFC would have been hoping that a rousing performance tonight would have been the perfect lead-in to a fight at 170lbs with GSP, but the welterweight champs own hesitance to strike might not bring the best out in the Brazilian. Instead I’d like to see them throw Silva in against a top level light-heavyweight, perhaps the loser of the Lyoto Machida Vs Mauricio Rua fight, or Rashad Evans Vs Rampage.
As for Maia, his opponents antics shouldn’t disguise the fact that he was thoroughly outclassed, and he’ll have to put on a strong performance in his next fight to ensure he doesn’t end up with a similar fate to Thales Leites and find himself quickly removed from the roster.