What prompted former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva to quickly change his tune about a rematch with new titleholder Chris Weidman? A little mental clarity.
Silva suffered a shocking second-round TKO loss to Weidman on July 6 at UFC 162. Immediately after the pay-per-view loss, which snapped Silva's 17-fight win streak and his string of 10 consecutive UFC title defenses, the 38-year-old said he didn't want a rematch and was done with title fights.
However, UFC President Dana White quickly promised the rematch would happen, and a week later, Weidman (10-0 MMA, 6-0 UFC) vs. Silva (33-5 MMA, 16-1 UFC) II was booked UFC 168 on Dec. 28.
So why the change?
"I was so sad with myself, with my lack of control on the moment, that I said some words that weren't nice," Silva recently told the Brazilian radio show "Mundo da Luta." "I said that I wouldn't fight for the title. But after I signed the contract (earlier in the year), Dana told me that he would give [me a rematch if I had lost the belt]. I was so out of myself that I didn't think about it."
Earlier this month in the heavily hyped title fight, Weidman caught Silva after the Brazilian had dropped his hands and taunted the challenger. Weidman connected on a left hook and then battered Silva with a few follow-up punches to score the victory.
According to Silva, the fact he lost the fight didn't actually set in until referee Herb Dean raised Weidman's arm after the bout.
"I lost my focus and made a technical mistake," said Silva, who suggested his desire to put on a memorable performance superseded his goal to win. "It was one of the things that I left – the philosophy of the martial art –and it cost me the belt. I always fought with this felling of keeping the martial art philosophy and keeping the control of the situation – trying to be as calm as possible for me to keep the balance of the octagon, which is very hard to do."
The game plan obviously led to some criticism, including some from Weidman, who could be seen on one camera apparently calling Silva a "disrespectful piece of s---" immediately after the stoppage. Even Silva fans complained and said the loss was more a matter of the Brazilian's showboating than anything Weidman did.
Of course, all the drama has led to intrigue for the rematch, but it's also put Silva in the crosshairs, which he said he understands.
"The criticism is valid, but I'm human," he said. "I made a technical mistake, and it was good for me and for the people around me to learn. I had to be able to know that focus is always needed. I lost focus, and now I will get better."