Its been more than a couple of days now but the events of UFC 101 still play a bit like a broken record in the mind for many a UFC fan, not least due to the controversies that arose.
First Sadollah's fight was stopped, to what seemed like to everyone in the crowd and his mother, prematurely; and as always with split decisions, decisions end up being debating points, not the definitive conclusions to the fights the judges had hoped for.
While the card did have a certain inevitability/predictability about it, it must be said, even before fights were fought and blood was spilled, Griffin-Silva still stood out in the end, not because Silva won—obviously a result many expected—but because of the absolutely mortifying manner that Griffin crumbled to the Brazilian middleweight master.
Now all things being equal, a light-heavyweight, especially a former light-heavy champion, is bound to have some natural advantage against a middleweight coming up from his natural weight to face him.
Sure, Silva isn't just any middleweight many could argue. In fact, he's highly regarded as the best P4P fighter in the world, in a world of Fedor Emelianenko's and GSP's no less. There's no doubt he would have backed himself, even against an ex-champ.
But after knocking down the UFC golden boy three times—at times mocking him openly by wagging his face at him and then cheekily letting Griffin up to resume what would of by then seemed to Griffin as a match conducted in the seventh circle of hell—I don't think anyone can argue that Griffin wasn't made to look like a real loser by Silva.
I know in my eyes, I can never look at Griffin the same way again.
Which leads to the overwhelming question: Did Griffin throw the fight at UFC 101?
Certainly he acted like a man that had just thrown a fight. With "knockout" declared, Griffin got up and scrambled out of the arena under a towel, with his tail between his legs. No doubt the Philly crowd, having just seen the Sadollah debacle, were in no forgiving mood to cheer another short fight.
And how about Silva's antics? To the rapacious boos and jeers before the fight, Silva looked extremely confident, smirking and making faces at the crowd people usually reserve for making at babies.
The manner in which he conducted himself in the fight betrayed an inevitability to the result in hindsight. What kind of fighter fights like a man who seems to know his victory in the fight is already assured? I'll tell you, either a very, very confident one or one that knows victory is a procession.
Of course, it all goes back to the details.
We are all aware now of Silva's situation. With three fights left until retirement the UFC is desperately hoping Silva earns the kudos he needs to challenge Machida. A loss to Griffin would of made the fight an impossibility, certainly in the timescale Silva has already set out by already announcing his retirement date.
Was Silva cynically mocking the UFC's WWE-like "booking" with his openly bravado theatrics? It's hilarious to think he was making real hay of such a hypothetical situation he may of found himself in...talk about a "dry" sense of humour.
I guess we'll never know for sure. Does the UFC "book" results to make fights in the future more lucrative? Do fighters throw fights of their own accord? Everyone has problems right?
With apparently "a broken jaw" for his troubles, nuanced spectators will continue to question.
Having seen an entire football league unravelled by match fixing (which went from the league commissioners right down to TV presenters), watched South Korea openly boss referees in front of 2 billions viewers at the 2002 WC and watched (subsequently proven) drug cheats cry openly at the Olympics after "winning" their pieces of painted silver—only a pitiable man would take everything at face value nowadays.
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