"The first thing you learn is respect. Your opponent across the other side of the mat, the Octagon, he is the most important person in that moment for you, because that's the person who makes you compete, who gives you the pleasure to entertain people, but I see martial arts not just from an entertainment side. I see it as a sport and as a sport, like in NBA, NFL we have a code of conduct and that's something that the UFC, we need to start having that. I think he really didn't have any conduct on this fight. He acted inappropriately and it wasn't the first time, so I hope this will be the last time that he does."
Those are the post-fight thoughts of Vitor Belfort on Anderson Silva’s ring generalship, this past weekend.
Although the words are not a stinging rebuke and could well be scoffed at by Silva fans and “Phenom” haters alike, Vitor Belfort’s words may well carry weight in another area and echo the sentiments of “The Spider’s” fans, even if they were not intended to do so.
Belfort sees Silva’s actions in the Octagon as disrespecting his opponent.
I respectfully disagree and I do so, because I think Vitor is using the word "respect" in the wrong context.
A fight is not a dojo honor match and once the gloves have been touched or not touched and the fight starts, respect should be thrown out the door. All who doubt, I proffer Hughes / GSP (UFC 50, 2004) as an example of what I mean.
There is no place for respect in a fight other than the fact that your opponent might beat you.
The lack of respect that Silva demonstrated on Saturday night was one of a complete lack of it for a world class fighter being able to catch him.
As Chael Sonnen commented on “Fuel TV”:
“You cannot be cocky and stick to the basic at the same time. You can't be arrogant and keep your hands up at the same time. A 38-year-old man is not going to out speed a 29-year-old."
That in a nutshell sums it up. The Spider went out there and played a game of chicken with his hands down and he got caught.
It is this lack of respect, of fighting with his hands down and not the taunting of Weidman, that was the “real” disrespect and what has drawn the (legitimate) criticism and even from Silva’s own fans. In many of their opinions, it’s even become the (unofficial) “excuse” for the loss.
To the taunting itself and even his “chicken dance”, these are tactics to Anderson and always have been. They are his bread and butter and the tools that have wowed fans for years. He simply got carried away with them and not in an insulting way to Weidman, but rather a "fighting stupid" way and for his own protection.
In the end, the real disrespect that Silva showed on Saturday night was to himself, his chin and his belt and Chris Weidman couldn’t have been insulted by it, because he was the benefactor of it.