November 12, 2012

Anderson Silva easily defeated Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153 last month in Rio. (

Anderson Silva plays with people.

The UFC middleweight champion has done it for years inside the octagon, most recently a month ago in Rio de Janeiro. He languished against the cage early in the main event that night as if lazing about on a street corner, arms at his side except to rev up the crowd of adoring countrymen by broadly gesturing for his opponent to hit him. No, to try to hit him. Then, after dodging every punch with nothing but a fluid rhythm of head and upper torso movement that would make a matador blush and a contortionist blanch, Silva apparently decided that he’d toyed enough with the musclebound man standing in front of him slinging hopeless leather. And with a single well-placed knee, he knocked the juice out of Stephan Bonnar. Show’s over, folks.

Outside the cage, Silva plays with all of us.

You were expecting “The Spider” to walk into the octagon Saturday night in Montreal, if Georges St-Pierre wins the UFC 154 main event, and publicly challenge the welterweight champion to a superfight, right? He’s going to be at the Bell Centre, we know. And UFC president Dana White is on record as saying, “He wants [GSP] to win this fight, and he wants to fight him after.” Asked directly if Silva will challenge St-Pierre in the octagon post-fight, the UFC president answered, “I would say yes.”

But Silva says no. “Not in my character to stand up and challenge anyone,” he told Tatame in a story posted Monday on the Brazilian magazine’s website. “I think that this will not happen.” He laughed and added, “I think not, I’m sure.” (Translation from Portuguese is from online sources.)

We might be inclined to chalk up this about-face letdown to the fight promoter with the mostest. During his conference call with MMA media last week, White made it sound like the octagon challenge was a fait accompli. But does he really need to use a phony Silva call-out to help sell the first St-Pierre fight in more than a year and a half? No, he doesn’t. It might well be that Dana simply knew that Silva was going to be in the building and put two and two together.

Well, here’s another set of numbers for White’s abacus: two zero one three.

Silva revealed in the same Brazilian interview that he does not intend to fight again until the end of 2013. White had been expecting to be able to put Silva back in the cage much sooner than that -- perhaps against GSP in Cowboys Stadium outside Dallas.

“I think it’s time for me to leave my life in order, because this thing of always being worried and having work, I just leave my personal life aside,” Silva told Tatame. “I have my projects, my personal plans and will keep them moving forward.”

While grinding the middleweight division to a halt?

Or maybe just putting Dana White through the grinder. Silva knows what Dana told the media and understands how much a superfight with St-Pierre would mean to the UFC. Perhaps this is simply his dramatic way of letting it be known that he won’t come cheap.

We know Silva likes to play with people. Maybe he plays them, too.

—Jeff Wagenheim

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