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UFC 90: The only thing Silva may have been guilty of was showing Cote too much respect

Saturday was a double-feature of MMA for me that began during an evening screening of the documentary Renzo Gracie: Legacy at the United States Film Festival in Center City, Philadelphia and concluded at night with UFC 90: Silva vs. Cote.

Perhaps the emotional roller-coaster that I experienced while watching the Renzo documentary left me on the tired side, but I wake up this morning confused as I make my rounds and read the opinion-makers sharing their thoughts on last night’s UFC event.

Did I watch the same event as everyone else?

Everybody can’t be wrong, so I have to assume that I am not right. That being said, I have to let you know that I didn’t see the same fight most of you did. While we both may have watched Anderson Silva defend his title vs. Patrick Cote, we saw a completely different fight.

Many pundits, including ones that write for this site, perceived the pound-for-pound best’ performance during the fight as nothing more than him toying with the less-heralded Cote. What I saw was a poised and patient Silva who did not want to give Cote a single ounce of daylight in order to risk the possibility of a knockout loss.

Unmotivated? Disrespectful? Say what? We can sit here and complain that Silva vs. Cote was not an intriguing matchup and had no business headlining a major UFC pay-per-view, but how can anyone argue that Cote was the best 185 pound fighter in the UFC available to challenge Silva for his title that hadn’t already lost to Silva?

I did not see an unmotivated Silva take it easy last night and try to take liberties with Cote. I did not see a champion fight with over-confidence. Rather, I saw Silva fight with extreme caution. I saw a man who did everything in his power to avoid a repeat occurrence of the UFC 69 upset of then-welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre against the underdog of underdogs, Matt Serra.

I saw a man who respected Cote’s punching power and had enough respect for him not to present his chin on a silver platter, much like Chuck Liddell did to Rashad Evans last month at UFC 88. Granted, there were times where Silva dropped his hands, but he was always out of striking distance when he did so. The way I saw it, Silva didn’t want to press Cote and risk a knockout and instead wanted to take advantage of his reach by making Cote push the pace so that he could counter.

I didn’t see Silva take his opponent lightly; I saw a fighter in Cote who absorbed some tremendous combinations from Silva and barely winced after absorbing knees to the face.

So after reading some of the reviews and recaps, I am left wondering just exactly what I saw last night because the thought of Silva toying with Cote never crossed my mind.

Some may feel that Cote didn’t deserve to be there in the first place, I disagree. While not a top ten middleweight, a strong case can be made that Cote was definitely top 15 going into last night’s event.

But while Cote certainly deserved to be in the spotlight last night, one thing we might be able to agree on is that he doesn’t deserve to return anytime soon. The injury was a fluke and happened to no fault of his own. But it also happened to no fault of Silva or the fans, many of whom felt a main event featuring Silva and Cote was less than compelling. Cote was clearly behind on the scorecards and while I feel he represented himself well, I still did not see enough from him to make me say, “Wow, if he hadn’t gotten injured, things would have gotten really interesting as the fight progressed.”

Last night was Cote’s shot and now it’s gone. As such, I hope play-by-play commentator Mike Goldberg’s rematch pleas fall on deaf ears because Silva vs. Cote II is one rematch I can wait for.