Silva wasn’t the heat-guided missile that fans have come to
love, the UFC middleweight champion emerged with his crown Saturday
in the main event at UFC 90 in Rosemont, Ill., after a freak knee
injury took out opponent Patrick Cote
in the opening seconds of the third round.
Silva was a little more show than substance in his fourth title
defense. Based on his brutal body of work -- which includes a pair
of dominating victories over former champ Rich Franklin,
one over two-time Pride titleholder Dan Henderson
and a 61-second destruction of James Irvin
last July -- expectations were high for a knockout to punctuate a
night of mixed performances.
The first round was underwhelming.
With both fighters taking a counter-striking stance, fans within
the All State Arena quickly grew restless watching Silva circle
away from Cote for the first half of the round. Nearly two minutes
passed before Silva (23-4) tested his distance with a left inside
kick, then followed with a substantial left body kick and a knee
which cut Cote over his right brow.
Silva’s lanky jab caught Cote (13-5) out of the gate in the second
round, but there was far too little leather in between attacks for
the crowd’s liking. Silva later connected with another left body
kick that persuaded Cote to shoot, but the savvy Brazilian reversed
and briefly settled into Cote’s guard. The 28-year-old challenger,
who outpointed Ricardo
Almeida in July for his shot at gold, did his best to keep the
muay Thai stylist off his feet. Silva wouldn’t bite, even offering
Cote his hand to help him off the canvas.
Cote was able to crack Silva’s timing and grasped a kick mid-air,
but he was unable dump Silva to the canvas. Instead, the
33-year-old Black House rep answered with a pair of knees in the
clinch on the fence.
Cote became the first fighter in UFC history to drag Silva into the
third round, though it was an accomplishment that lasted only 39
seconds. Bouncing his weight between legs, Cote’s knee suddenly
torqued in an odd fashion. The former Canadian Army ranger
collapsed to the mat cradling his right leg. Cote tried desperately
to drag his leg back into action, but referee Herb Dean had no
recourse but to end things there.
Both fighters seemed keenly aware that this wasn’t the finish that
the masses had come to see.
“It was an old injury. I’m so sorry,” said Cote. “The fight was
great before. I was chasing Anderson. … I’m sorry I didn’t put on a
good show. It’s an old injury. I busted my knee in the second round
and I tried to come back in the third and my knee just popped
Silva echoed his fallen challenger’s sentiments.
“I came here and we were putting on the fight that the world wanted
to see – an entertaining fight,” said Silva. “I came here to fight.
Patrick came here to fight. He was exchanging. It was a fine fight,
but unfortunately he got hurt.”
Silva, who continued to fuel thoughts of retirement in a recent
interview with Sherdog.com, has five fights remaining on his
contract but little opposition remains for him while the rest of
the division races to catch up. A rematch with Yushin Okami
lingers, though the Japanese fighter has been missing in action
with a bum knee since his March victory against the late Evan Tanner.