Mixed Martial Arts

White: Silva-Weidman rematch will be biggest UFC fight ever

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The Canadian Press
7/8/2013 2:46:22 PM
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TORONTO -- A pumped-up Dana White headed to the gym Monday morning and started planning Silva-Weidman 2.

"It will be the biggest fight we've ever done in the UFC," the UFC president told The Canadian Press from Las Vegas.

Biggest because Chris (The All-American) Weidman upset Anderson Silva on Saturday night in Las Vegas. And because of the manner in which the longtime middleweight champion and MMA icon was dethroned.

The 38-year-old Silva, who had won all his of 16 previous UFC fights, clowned his way to a loss. As he had done in other recent bouts, he dropped his hands and egged his opponent to hit him.

In the past, Silva's reflexes had kept him out of harm's way. But this time he got clocked in the second round and went down. Referee Herb Dean stepped in after Weidman got in a flurry of blows on the champ as he lay on his back.

The upset, while predicted by some including welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre of Montreal, drew instant response from those who missed the pay-per-view.

"Who has a video of the ufc fight tonight? Send it to me," tweeted pop star Justin Bieber.

White said plenty of others had the same thought. He called UFC 162 the most-pirated event in the organization's history. The post-fight news conference, available through the UFC and other websites, was also well watched.

The 29-year-old Weidman (10-0) received a basic purse of US$24,000 plus a $24,000 win bonus, according to the Nevada State Athletic Commission. A $50,000 knockout of the night bonus increased that figure to $98,000.

Expect the UFC, which does not like to talk money, to quietly top up Weidman's pay in spectacular fashion.

Silva (33-5) collected a basic purse of $600,000, missing out on a $200,000 win bonus. The Brazilian's pay cheque, however, will be in the millions once other bonuses and a cut of the pay-per-view revenue are factored in.

Weidman, who fights out of Mineola, N.Y., improved to 6-0 in the UFC. A graduate of Hofstra University, with a bachelor's degree in psychology and master's in physical education, Weidman is a former NCAA All-American wrestler.

Most of those who believed Weidman could win thought so because of that wrestling prowess. But Silva survived being taken down in the first round.

Silva, seen as one of the sport's greatest strikers, lost on his feet for not taking his opponent seriously.

The Brazilian has long been a mercurial character, both inside and outside the cage. White has taken him to the woodshed for showboating in the past, even moving him up a weight class in a bid to challenge him.

Silva, a father of five, can alternate between being playful and disinterested at media events.

But two days after Silva losing his title and tarnishing his reputation, White said he had no beef with the Brazilian star for the bizarre tactics that backfired. The UFC boss called him the sport's greatest fighter ever, adding that Silva would have been hailed as a hero if he had gone on to win.

Weidman, however, was less than pleased by Silva's fight antics. A clip of him in the cage after the stoppage seems to show the new champ calling Silva "a disrespectful piece of" -- well, you can fill in the blank.

According to FightMetric, Silva connected on 14 of 24 significant strike attempts (58 per cent) Saturday night, compared to 16 of 34 (37 per cent) for Weidman, who was good on one of three takedowns. Silva connected on five of six significant strikes in the second round before he got tagged.

The Brazilian leads the UFC with a career 67.5 per cent significant strike accuracy rate.

Like most, White expects Silva to be all business next time.

It's as if Saturday's first chapter was only half-written. Fans want to know what happens when both fighters show up for real.

"All wins are not created equal," said White. "And all losses are not created equal."

The UFC got good traction on the rematch between Silva and Chael Sonnen at UFC 148 after Sonnen dominated the champ before being submitted in the fifth round of their first fight at UFC 117.

White expects this rematch to eclipse that one in terms of fan interest.

As for Silva, he tweeted a picture Monday of himself getting a hug in what looked like a family reunion at an airport as his son looked on.

"That is my prize," the ex-champ tweeted.

Weidman knocks out Silva (Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
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