Commentary

Silva wins, but fails to impress

Anderson Silva might have defended his UFC middleweight title against Patrick Cote on Saturday, but he failed to impress. Myron Medcalf analyzes his performance.

Originally Published: October 26, 2008
By Myron Medcalf | Special to ESPN.com

Anderson Silva and Patrick CoteTasos Katopodis/Getty ImagesPatrick Cote, right, was holding his own against Anderson Silva until a bum knee cut his night short.
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Patrick Cote had a chance to shock the world at Saturday's UFC 90.

Cote already had become the only Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter to take pound-for-pound king Anderson Silva to the third round. And he'd been the aggressor for most of the fight, although Silva had landed some hard kicks and punches.

But the Canadian fighter had no Seth Petruzelli moments.

In what already was an odd bout because Silva was toying with his opponent more than he was taking the fight to him, Cote landed awkwardly on his right leg after throwing a punch at Silva and blew out his knee in the third round. He collapsed to the ground, and in a display of mixed martial arts irony, the fighter who had replaced an injured fighter missed out on his chance to take the middleweight title because of a freak injury of his own.

"I did a good job, you know. I was in the third round with the best fighter in the world," Cote said. "I gave him a good fight until this thing happened. It was a big opportunity for me in a title fight."

At 39 seconds of the third round, referee Herb Dean called the fight off and gave Silva the technical knockout. Cote got up and limped to his stool, then kept saying "I'm sorry" as he sat on his stool wearing a bewildered look.

Although fans booed the outcome at Illinois' first-ever UFC event, Silva tried to calm the angered and puzzled crowd and give Cote credit.

"Patrick should not be booed, because you don't know what it's like to go through a training camp," Silva said after the fight. He added later: "But unfortunately, he got hurt. But we'll back again."

UFC president Dana White certainly did not want things to end the way they did Saturday. He'd praised the Chicago area for its loyalty to his company before the fight and had said the UFC would make annual trips to Chicago because of it. More than 15,000 fans watched the fight card live.

"It always sucks when it ends this way," White said at the postfight news conference. "You could just feel it in the crowd. It was bad way to go out. … Sometimes weird stuff happens."

Cote took some hard shots from Silva and lived up to his reputation as a striker with a hard chin -- he's never been knocked out. He also won over some of the fans, some of whom were chanting "Cote! Cote!" by the second round.

Silva, for his part, fought in spurts, giving Cote the opening to become the more active fighter. His seemingly flawless blend of Muay Thai, powerful striking, tough takedown defense and sheer ability to take a punch have made him the unchallenged pound-for-pound mixed martial arts king and drew the large crowd to Allstate Arena. But he seemed somewhat disinterested after giving fans memorable knockouts and submissions against fighters such as Travis Lutter, Dan Henderson and Rich Franklin. His Muhammad Ali shuffles, constant movement and other antics were confusing for a fighter who's known for the on-your-seat excitement he normally brings to his fights.

Silva said he did not try to clown around with Cote. "I came here to do my job, and I wasn't playing around," Silva said. "This is not a job where you can come play around. … That's why I'm champion. I don't come to play around."

But even White said he didn't understand Silva's game plan.

"It wasn't the Anderson Silva that we all saw fight over the last two years," White said. "When he walked into the press conference, he said 'I'm sorry.'"

In recent months, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has talked about ending his professional mixed martial arts career and fighting just five more times. Because Silva, who won his eighth fight in a row Saturday, circled the Octagon for a chunk of the fight, there were numerous lapses in the action. When Silva pursued Cote, he hurt him, but he stayed away long enough to allow Cote to stay in the fight until he suffered the third-round injury.

Silva, 33, wants to finish his UFC contract, which includes five more fights under the mixed martial arts organization. He plans to retire by the time he's 35. Plenty of fights could be made, especially at light heavyweight. But after Saturday's performance, Silva said he has some time left in mixed martial arts.

"You're gonna see me for a while," Silva said. "That was just something I talked about. But as you can see tonight, it's going to be a while before you see me retire."

Myron P. Medcalf is a staff writer for the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and a freelancer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine.