The genius of Dana White is what got the UFC back into the spotlight. He made it legitimate and brought an entertaining fight organization into the mainstream consciousness again, but for good reasons instead of bad ones. He created weight classes, created uniform rules for the fighters to follow, eliminated the random guys with mullets and mustaches who were “black belts” on karate but somehow managed to lose to Tank Abbot, and even created a reality show that wasn’t completely annoying. You have to respect everything about that list.
But Dana White is having some problems actually running the organization. He’s even in the press ragging his greatest fighter even though the matchup was badly conceived by White himself.
The UFC is in a practically unprecedented position in fighting sports. Unlike boxing, there aren’t multiple belts that matter. The UFC is the only promotion in the game that has any real national recognition, and every MMA fighter wants to be the UFC champion. This means Dana White can promote who he wants, be selective about who he lets into the UFC, and generally make sure his product doesn’t suck from PPV to PPV.
So what the fuck was a no stand-up, chickenshit, punk bitch like Thales Leites doing in the ring with the best fighter in the UFC? The fight was so one-sided, it looked like White and the UFC were trying to fix the result so Silva remained champion no matter what. It was embarrassing for all involved.
In truth, I respect Leites as a fighter quite a bit. He’s one of the best jiu-jitsu experts in the world. He just had no business in the ring with Anderson Silva. I can say the same for the entire middleweight division. Silva is just that good.
Everyone knows the fighters’ styles make the fights interesting…or not. When two sluggers get into the ring, you know it’s going to be entertaining. Anderson Silva may be a black belt in jiu-jitsu, but he’s a stand-up monster and that’s how he’s made his name. Leites is the exact opposite, and when opposite fighters meet, there’s a decent chance the fighters aren’t going to play into the other guy’s strengths. Hey, look, that’s exactly what happened.
Thus, Leites really, really wanted to take the fight to the ground, so he spent the entire fight flopping like a Duke basketball player. Silva wanted to fight standing up, where he could destroy Leites with minimal risk. So they both executed their strategies, and Leites ended up looking like a bitch while the UFC and everyone who watched were the ones who truly lost.
Even when the fight went into Leites’ strengths, he did little or no damage to Silva. I, for one, expected a hell of a lot more from him on the ground. He basically gave up trying for the takedown when Silva managed to escape a few times, and got no submission chances while Silva made escaping his guard and his takedowns and holds way, way too easy. The guy’s gameplan had no chance of working against one of the two best fighters in the world.
Silva had no reason to risk a real slugfest with a woefully outmatched opponent. He knew he could outpoint Leites and have virtually no damage done to him, which is exactly what happened. He pulled a Floyd Mayweather Jr. Mayweather had no reason to try his hardest against De La Hoya, so he didn’t, and he still won. Great champions need a challenge. Ricky Hatton offered that to Mayweather, and “money-May” stepped up and gave the performance of his career. Some one needs to do the same to Silva. So far, the UFC hasn’t offered that.
UFC 97 was a send-off for a washed up (for two years now) Chuck Liddell, and a ho-hum performance by a great champion. Everyone could see this coming when they analyzed the matchup. Everyone except Dana White, who has sold his organization as a knockout-fest, despite all his moves to make the UFC more legitimate and safe. Maybe he thought Silva would dispose of the overmatched Leites, and Silva did, but it wasn’t in the way White wanted, so he complained loudly and publicly. Great way to embarrass his own organization and its best fighter.
Memo for next time: Hey Dana, pay attention to who you’re putting into the ring with your best fighter. And for fuck’s sake, don’t complain about a fight which you were in full control of creating. That just makes you look like the loud, irresponsible jackass your public image has become.