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UFC 90: The only thing Silva may have been guilty of was showing Cote too much respect

Saturday was a double-feature of MMA for me that began during an evening screening of the documentary Renzo Gracie: Legacy at the United States Film Festival in Center City, Philadelphia and concluded at night with UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote.

Perhaps the emotional roller-coaster that I experienced while watching the Renzo documentary left me on the tired side, but I wake up this morning confused as I make my rounds and read the opinion-makers sharing their thoughts on last night’s UFC event.

Did I watch the same event as everyone else?

Everybody can’t be wrong, so I have to assume that I am not right. That being said, I have to let you know that I didn’t see the same fight most of you did. While we both may have watched Anderson Silva defend his title vs. Patrick Cote, we saw a completely different fight.

Many pundits, including ones that write for this site, perceived the pound-for-pound best’ performance during the fight as nothing more than him toying with the less-heralded Cote. What I saw was a poised and patient Silva who did not want to give Cote a single ounce of daylight in order to risk the possibility of a knockout loss.

Unmotivated? Disrespectful? Say what? We can sit here and complain that Silva vs. Cote was not an intriguing matchup and had no business headlining a major UFC pay-per-view, but how can anyone argue that Cote was the best 185 pound fighter in the UFC available to challenge Silva for his title that hadn’t already lost to Silva?

I did not see an unmotivated Silva take it easy last night and try to take liberties with Cote. I did not see a champion fight with over-confidence. Rather, I saw Silva fight with extreme caution. I saw a man who did everything in his power to avoid a repeat occurrence of the UFC 69 upset of then-welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre against the underdog of underdogs, Matt Serra.

I saw a man who respected Cote’s punching power and had enough respect for him not to present his chin on a silver platter, much like Chuck Liddell did to Rashad Evans last month at UFC 88. Granted, there were times where Silva dropped his hands, but he was always out of striking distance when he did so. The way I saw it, Silva didn’t want to press Cote and risk a knockout and instead wanted to take advantage of his reach by making Cote push the pace so that he could counter.

I didn’t see Silva take his opponent lightly; I saw a fighter in Cote who absorbed some tremendous combinations from Silva and barely winced after absorbing knees to the face.

So after reading some of the reviews and recaps, I am left wondering just exactly what I saw last night because the thought of Silva toying with Cote never crossed my mind.

Some may feel that Cote didn’t deserve to be there in the first place, I disagree. While not a top ten middleweight, a strong case can be made that Cote was definitely top 15 going into last night’s event.

But while Cote certainly deserved to be in the spotlight last night, one thing we might be able to agree on is that he doesn’t deserve to return anytime soon. The injury was a fluke and happened to no fault of his own. But it also happened to no fault of Silva or the fans, many of whom felt a main event featuring Silva and Cote was less than compelling. Cote was clearly behind on the scorecards and while I feel he represented himself well, I still did not see enough from him to make me say, “Wow, if he hadn’t gotten injured, things would have gotten really interesting as the fight progressed.”

Last night was Cote’s shot and now it’s gone. As such, I hope play-by-play commentator Mike Goldberg’s rematch pleas fall on deaf ears because Silva vs. Cote II is one rematch I can wait for.

  • mingo says:

    I felt cote won round one so not sure where the way behind on the scorecards comes from

  • Itshisownfault says:

    First off – glad to see you posting more Sam. Some of the newer “writers” have left a lot to be desired.

    Okay, to what I saw last night. I thought Silva respected Cote’s power, and after testing Cote with a few hard shots, respected his resolve and ability to take punishment. Silva seemed to be trying to frustrate Cote. Cote was doing a good job of engaging and moving at angle’s and making sure he was active – much like his corner was telling him to be.

    I think Silva could have been more aggressive, however, unlike seemingly most people on his bandwagon – he knows he is human and seemed like he didn’t want to take necessary risks.

    I thought he fought a very “Lyoto Machida”-esque fight – just with more flair :)

  • Dave says:

    Sam, you are definitely in the minority. I watched the fight with about 5 people. Prior to the fight there were a couple people who didn’t know anything about MMA so they put on the All Access as a preview. Most were going in liking Anderson, but after those stunts all the people in teh room wanted to see him go down. Cote’s expression at the end of the round said it all as he looked at his corner and shrugged like “I don’t know what’s going on”.

    Some people are even defending Anderson offering to help Cote up. WTF is that? That was clearly him just being a smart a*s. He got hit with a couple shots on the ground with cote, stood back up, gave him a couple light FU kicks, and then tried to make a joke out of it.

    I thought he came off like a cocky a*s yesterday. He wasn’t sitting back and trying to get his timing on cote..he was being a jacka*s. He’s the one that looks bad tonight, not Cote.

  • JollyDV says:

    I am not crazy after all! Thank you. Last night after the fight I commented something akin to what you just said and I would say every one reading and posting felt the exact opposite.

    After the 5-6 time of being told I was very wrong, I started to think well maybe I missed something. Maybe I was wearing rose colored glasses while watching the Silva/Cote fight.

    What a relief! It is early yet, but I wonder if there are others out there that agree? I didn’t see a one last night.

  • Eric Wilbanks says:

    Sam, I agree that last night was not an example of Silva “toying with” Cote. What we saw last night was the real Silva. Here’s what I mean:

    A lot of folks are upset, saying that Silva was show-boating, as if it were somehow completely out of character. My response…go back and re-watch ALL of Silva’s fights. He has always behaved the same way in the ring. His style is fluid, energetic, creative. Think: Bruce Lee, Muhammad Ali. Lots of foot work. Lots of mental gymnastics. Lots of attempts to confuse, distract and dishearten their opponents.

    Now, maybe that can be considered show-boating. Seems primarily semantic to me. But you cannot make the case that it was unusual. We just happened to be privy to more of it last night than in Silva’s previous fights.

    Silva is an intelligent fighter. Cote has proven KO power. And based on pre-fight interviews, Silva was already determined to take this fight into the 5th round if needed. Strategy, folks. Strategy. Make your opponent chase you. Frustrate him. Allow him to make a mistake and then capitalize. It’s a good strategy…the same one that allowed Rashad Evans to gain a brutal KO over Chuck Lidell.

    Both men came into the ring with great game plans, which it seems to me were exactly the same. Physical chess. Who will lose patience and make the first mistake? Guess we’ll never know.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Eric, you are 100% correct. The only big difference we saw from Silva last night that when he picked his spots to strike, he didn’t stay in the pocket as long as he normally does and I think it was because he didn’t want to get caught with anything on the way out.

  • Boon says:

    I was actually quite surprised that the majority of people thought he was being a jerk. If anything, he showed too much respect for his opponent’s power and resolve and that prevented him from doing the things that he normally does. If you look at his past fights in the UFC, Anderson does his best when the other fighter is actively engaging him. His knockout flurries often come in the middle of an exchange and Cote wasn’t really trading with him. I just thought Anderson was biding his time. I think he was waiting for Cote to unload and commit so he can counter. Anderson was probably trying to bait Cote and force him to make a mistake. He might have been too careful in his approach, but I didn’t see any disrespect from Anderson at all.

  • Cathedron says:

    Why is it that when Silva dropped his hands and dodged Franklin’s attack in their second fight that no one attacked him for showboating, but against Cote everyone says he’s showboating because he was waving his hands around trying to get Cote to flinch?

    I was enormously impressed with Cote last night. I still think he would have gotten killed if the fight had continued, but he did a fantastic job.

  • glock says:

    Yeah, what Eric and Sam said…….

    BTW, whatsup with the all the booing?? what bunch of frickin’ a$$holes.

    hope we don’t have to sit thru another event in Chicago any time soon….
    or maybe just make Kimbo fight all his sleeping contests there.

  • James says:

    silvas good enough that he doesnt need to throw in all that hot dog bullshit…it may have been mental strategy but to me it crossed the line into poor sportsmanship and yes he’s always done the same shit in all his fights…since he’s primarily a counterstriker i figure he was trying to bait cote into getting off his gameplan and fighting more off of emotion (ie lets knock this girly voiced sammy davis jr’s wannabes head off); the face of the ufc and best pound for pound fighter needs to show more class for the sake of the sport

  • Numba1Stunna says:

    Sam, this is a great article and I have to say after reading this you have definitely changed my opinion on the fight. I just watched it again, and I am having a hard time understanding how I even thought that Silva was toying with him in the first place. The hand movement and body movements that Silva displayed were in no way show-boating. His reflexes and strikes are the same whether or not he is doing those so I almost think he was trying to bait Cote into thinking that he could capitalize off Silva not having his hands in the right places. And then when Cote would fire Silva was hitting him with some powerful shots that never actually hurt Cote. Silva knew that if Cote caught him flush there was a chance he would get hurt so like you said he kept his range and picked his spots. I think Silva didn’t throw more combinations like he usually does is because he underestimated how good Cote’s chin was. To throw combo’s you have to be in the pocket for them to have the full effect, and since Silva saw that Cote can take a punch and still come full speed he knew he couldn’t just stand their throwing. If Silva is throwin combo’s in the pocket obviously his defense wouldn’t be as strong because he leaves himself vulnerable everytime he throws, and its clear Silva didn’t want to know what a Cote overhand right felt like. Sam, do you think that if Silva leaves MW for his last 5 fights that Cote would deserve a shot to fight for the interim belt? I say Marquardt Vs. Cote…

  • JTM says:

    Weird thing is, last night watching UFC 90 at 2am GMT, I said to my brother that if I was Cote, the only thing worse than eating a nose-rearranging knee from the savege ballet of violence that is Anderson Silva, would be some kind of horrendous knee injury that would wreck you up even worse. Respect to Cote though, no-one thought he would get out of the 2nd round.

    Good card all round yet again, the last 5, I think, have been solidly entertaining.

  • neijia says:

    Sam, great post. The fans, as usual, are complete idiots. No wonder they parrot whatever Dana White says. They are obviously missing more than a few marbles.

    For once, I found myself agreeing with everything Rogan said. Silva was indeed setting up Cote even when he looked like he was doing “nothing”. Would it be more satisfying to see him finish Cote quickly? Perhaps so but it’s very interesting to see his elusiveness and search for openings – when he finds them, it’s still a ballet of violence. “Lyoto Machida with flair” was a good line.

  • neijia says:

    If Anderson walks around at 230, same weight as Fedor, there are any number of more interesting match-ups. He should be able to walk over most of the LHW’s. The clip of him sparring “Lil Nog” on All Access was pretty interesting.

  • EJ says:

    Great article Sam i’m in complete agreement, the idea that Silva was toying with Cote and could end the fight whenever he wanted is nothing more than his apologist at work. They all predicted Anderson via murder and have alot of egg on their face because Cote was not once hurt or rocked by Silva during the fight and IMO had the fight 1 round a piece. Patrick was not scared or intimidated and I think that threw off Silva usually when he lands a good shot his opponents are on their heels and he pounces on them for the finish with Cote there was none of that. I’m all for a rematch because to me Cote showed that as good as Silva is he’s not unbeatable or unstopable and a guy who didn’t even deserve a title shot according to some proved just that at UFC 90.

  • the Levi says:

    i agree with Sam completely. i was saying those same things while I watched the fight live and when I watched it again.I was comparing him to lyoto machida his training partner.he was being very “Elusive”, because he respected Cote’s power.Cote looked dangerous when Anderson tried to put him in the clinch, because when he breaks the clinch he throws a mean right.Yeah I’m talking about the one he used to drop Tito and Kendall.if he landed one of those it might have been good night Anderson.

  • Jeremy Black says:

    Re: (Silva vs Cote)

    Hey Sam, howzit going? (thats australian for how are you?)
    While I agree partially with you, I have to disagree with some of what you say.
    The way the Ufc portrayed the fight on tv, was to me a little biased. But I will discuss that in a few moments.
    After repeatedly watching the fight and revising my own scores I have to say that Cote won the first round or atleast it could have been called a draw. (One of the judges wasn’t suffering from a case of I love Spider as he gave it to Cote).
    Here’s the stats I came up with.
    Cote landed 10 un-checked leg kicks to Silva’s 3.
    Cote landed 7 punches to Silva’s head/face to Silva’s 4. 2 punches were flush.
    Silva got 1 kick to the head and 2 knees to the face and a glancing kick to the body.
    The second round I would give to Silva who outscored Cote, however the 2 best blows of that round came from Cote when he elbowed the top of Silva’s head.
    Silva scored with 3 leg kicks to the body, 2 unchecked leg kicks, a punch to the body, a punch to the head and a glancing elbow to Cote.
    The 3rd round was even with only 1 punch to the face and a leg kick from Cote to Silva’s 2 punches to the head.
    What annoyed me were the replay’s after each round. The UFC mainly focused on showing Silva hitting Cote. But Silva also got caught with some good punches in the few times they got to exchanging blows. These however were not shown at the end of the round even though they were some of the highlights of the fight.
    And Joe Rogan and whoever the other commentator was were clearly too caught up in Anderson (one hugging each nut) to commentate properly on what was really happening in the fight. When Cote thumped Anderson in the head 2 times in a row they didn’t even say anything! What type of commentators are they?. And then when Anderson threw out a kick that missed they would say “what a great kick by Anderson!” wtf! The commentary was very bias.
    Now for you to go and say Cote doesn’t deserve another shot is ridiculous.
    Anderson was clearly confused about how to engage with Cote, especially considering he had hit him with his best shots and Cote just ate them up like they were fairy taps. Anderson was very weary and was afraid to engage for fear of being knocked out. When he did engage he (Anderson), was getting caught.
    He tasted Cote’s punching power and decided it was better to dance and be evasive rather than risk being knocked out and humiliated.
    To me Silva was not a decisive winner and needs to fight Cote again to prove to everyone that he is more dominant than Cote.
    I saw Cote as being the more aggressive fighter taking the fight to Anderson.
    Anderson for the most part was avoiding getting anywhere near Cote. Anderson has got a lot to lose and for him to lose to Cote would be humiliating.
    But this is only because Cote doesn’t get the respect from the mma community that he deserves.

    Anyway mate just wanted to share my thoughts.

    Take it easy.

    Mr Black.


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