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LAS VEGAS, July 6 – For over seven years, Anderson Silva was unbeatable. As he defended his UFC middleweight title for the 11th time Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, he appeared to believe it, dropping his hands and showboating against unbeaten challenger Chris Weidman. Next scene: a new champion, as Weidman took advantage of his opponent’s hubris, stunning Silva with a second round knockout that handed the Brazilian legend his first loss in 17 UFC fights.
“I felt I was destined for this,” said Long Island, New York’s Weidman. “I imagined it so many times, but it still feels surreal.”
“Chris Weidman tonight is the best,” said a gracious Silva, who held the title since October of 2006. “He’s the new champion. He has my respect.”
Silva eschewed a touch of gloves with his challenger, opting instead to bow, and as promised, the 29-year-old Weidman went on the offensive immediately, taking Silva down and firing off ground strikes. Silva tried to work from the bottom, but Weidman’s attack was relentless. As he looked to pass Silva’s guard, he suddenly went for the champion’s leg, but after some dicey moments, Silva escaped and got back to his feet. Dropping his hands and calling Weidman to the fence, Silva looked unbothered by the trouble he was in earlier, and as he taunted, he began to go on the offensive himself, firing shots at Weidman while offering his chin in return. Weidman couldn’t catch it though, instead getting a hug from the champion as the round ended.
There was no end to Silva’s confidence as the second round began, and the crowd ate up the showboating. Weidman seemed to be taken out of his game by the unorthodox turn of events, and his first takedown attempt of the round came up short. But after landing a shot to Silva’s chin, the champion feigned that he was hurt. The next punch left no doubt, as Weidman landed a left to the jaw. Silva avoided the next couple shots, but then the left landed again. This time Silva hit the deck and Weidman closed the show, with four unanswered blows bringing in referee Herb Dean to stop the fight at the 1:18 mark and usher in a new era in middleweight history, one the 38-year-old Silva insists he will not be part of.
“Chris is the champion now,” said Silva when asked about a rematch despite saying that he’s not retiring. “I don’t fight no more for the belt.”
As for the new king, he begins his reign with an important lesson in his back pocket.
“No one’s invincible.”