On July 6, 2013, as he prepared for the main event of UFC 162, Anderson Silva was—nearly by consensus—the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world. He was on a seven-year, 17-fight winning streak, the last 16 of which had come in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He had defended the UFC middleweight belt a record 10 straight times, and it would have been 11 if his first scheduled defense had not been rendered a non-title fight by Travis Lutter missing weight. In between nearly cleaning out his division, he had even found the time to make three forays at light heavyweight, each of which featured an opponent who ranged from “respectable” to “Top 5” and all of which ended in humiliating first-round knockouts of the 205-pounders in question. In the time since Silva had last seen defeat in a ring or cage, pound-for-pound contemporary Georges St. Pierre had fallen and bounced back, while Fedor Emelianenko had fallen and stayed that way, at least in terms of the “best fighter on the planet” conversation, a conversation rounded out by a pre-scandal Jon Jones and the eternally, quietly dominant Jose Aldo.
Facing Silva as he went for his record 11th straight title defense was Chris Weidman. Undefeated in nine professional fights, including five in the Octagon, the “All-American” had been a sorely-needed injection of youth into the moribund division, and most observers agreed that he was a surefire future champ and perhaps even the man to dethrone Silva one day. However, those same observers also agreed that July 6, 2013, was not going to be that day, as evidenced by a betting line that opened up around 2-to-1 in favor of Silva and widened to nearly 3-to-1 by fight night.
Once the fight started, things quickly went sideways from the expectations of a typical Silva title defense. While Silva had spent most of his title reign laughing off the takedown attempts of his challengers—or making them pay with his deadly, but rarely used Brazilian jiu-jitsu—Weidman took the champ down within the first minute, immediately started pummeling him and nearly passed his guard. Once they ended up back on the feet, Silva commenced with the clowning. Whether Silva’s customary antics amounted to taunting, showboating or mental gamesmanship is largely in the eye of the beholder, but Silva began grinning, dodging punches with his hands down and dancing with his hands on his hips. As the round expired, Silva was laughing, but Weidman was ahead.
Between rounds, Weidman’s coach, Ray Longo, could be heard exhorting his pupil to ignore the “Matrix”-like head movement, coining the now-immortal sound bite: “I want you to punch a hole in his f***in’ chest! That’s what I want you to do.” Barely a minute into the second round, however, Weidman finally found his opponent’s head. As Silva persisted with his tactics, Weidman caught him with a perfect left hook on the chin. Silva dropped like a bag of rocks as Weidman dove onto him and sealed the deal with a one-two from his knees. Referee Herb Dean was there a split second later, pulling Weidman off at 1:16 of the second round. The greatest run in UFC history was over, and the future of the middleweight division was now.