By Kevin Iole of Yahoo Sports
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – As the fourth round ended in the middleweight championship fight on Saturday at UFC 112 at Ferrari World, Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White picked up Anderson Silva’s title belt and tossed it in the direction of Silva’s manager, Ed Soares.
White was nearly becoming physically ill watching Silva clown in the cage and avoid fighting. He wanted nothing to do with presenting the champion with his belt after the fight with Demian Maia ended.
Silva pranced around the ring, making odd motions and strange faces, banging the mat, running in circles and generally behaving as if he had no understanding that people paid significant money to watch him fight.
He looked like a fool and he disrespected his opponent, the sport, his employers and, most significantly, a live crowd which paid a gate of $3.5 million as well as the hundreds of thousands of people who purchased the pay-per-view to watch him.
White seethed at the postfight news conference and tossed verbal hand grenades in Silva’s direction. After meeting with reporters following the news conference, White headed to Silva’s trailer for a showdown.
He said he didn’t know how he would punish Silva, who won by scores of 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46, but said he would find a way to make it up to the fans for having to sit through such a poor, confounding main event.
Perhaps the best way White can get even with Silva, who was defiant at the postfight news conference, is to have Silva fight on the card he is planning to benefit the military in Afghanistan.
White looked extraordinarily angry when he walked into the room and didn’t pull any punches when he began to speak.
“I’ll answer the questions about what a disgrace the main event was and what an embarrassment it is,” White said almost immediately upon taking the lectern postfight. “I don’t think I’ve ever been more embarrassed in 10 years of being in this business. It’s the first time I’ve ever walked out of a main event.”
By the time the fifth round was winding to a close, the sellout crowd of 11,008 was chanting Maia’s name.
Silva meekly apologized in the cage in an interview with television analyst Joe Rogan, but he struck a more defiant chord at the postfight news conference.
“Unfortunately, not every fight turns out the way everyone would like,” Silva said through Soares, who was interpreting for him. “I came here well-trained, but Demian disrespected me, not as a person, but he disrespected me as a fighter. I take that very seriously. I came here to do my job, which was to beat him up and punish him. That’s exactly what I did.”
Silva dodged the question several times, but finally said vaguely that he felt Maia disrespected him in prefight interviews when Maia, a jiu-jitsu black belt, talked about breaking his arm.
What didn’t make sense about Silva’s answer was that if he felt disrespected was that he spent much of the last three rounds running and clowning and not punching or kicking. He had the opportunity to make Maia pay for his words, if Maia actually said anything incendiary, but he chose instead to circle, wiggle his back side, make faces and essentially make a fool out of anyone who either purchased a ticket or bought the pay-per-view.
“The way I feel, my mission was completed,” Silva said. “I came in and dominated the fight and did what I had to do. That’s how I feel.”
Silva was clearly a far better fighter than Maia, whose only hope of winning was to somehow get the fight to the ground and catch Silva in a submission hold. Silva was faster and could nearly land his punches at will.
He had a far more varied attack and broke Maia’s nose with a flying knee in the second.
The highlights for Silva, though, lessened as the fight wore on and he spent more time mocking Maia and making a jackass of himself.
His actions will have deep repercussions. For one, the fight was aired live in the U.S. at 1 p.m. ET, but was still going to be replayed in its normal pay-per-view time slot beginning at 10 p.m. ET.
Fans who may have purchased the fight in its normal slot likely didn’t buy it after catching word of Silva’s antics.
Even more, Silva did the same thing at UFC 90 and then had a lackluster performance at UFC 97.
White glared at Silva as Silva answered questions from the media. Clearly, Silva’s words did not soothe his boss’ feelings.
“I’m more unhappy than I was when I walked in the door,” White said after hearing Silva’s lame answers at the news conference. “That’s why I ended the news conference. I couldn’t stand to listen to that [expletive] any more.”
Silva cost himself a big chunk of his reputation as well as a lot of money. He lost the respect of the ownership of the UFC, who were embarrassed in front of their new partners, the investment group from Abu Dhabi who bought a reported 10 percent of the company.
He may have lost his status as the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
He lost his opportunity to drop to welterweight as he said he wanted to do before the fight and challenge 170-pound champion Georges St. Pierre.
“He doesn’t deserve to fight GSP,” White fairly spat.
Early in the news conference, White said Silva might become the first champion to fight on the preliminary card.
Wherever he fights, Silva had better pray that White stacks the card with a lot of fights people want to see.
Because if Anderson Silva is the main attraction, don’t be shocked if the fans stay away in droves.