The lead-up to the fight between Anderson Silva and Chris Weidman was interesting in that there was a disconnect between what more casual fans thought of the fight, and what more hardcore fans thought. Casual fans had likely only seen Weidman compete once, against Demian Maia at UFC on Fox 2. That just happened to be Weidman’s least impressive UFC performance, on short notice against a very tough opponent. Regardless, that was their point of reference, and the cause for them to believe Weidman didn’t represent much of a threat against Silva.
On the other hand, there’s the hardcore fans, which consist of people like me. We watch every UFC fight, which means we saw Weidman utterly destroy Mark Munoz a year ago, in a fight that not many people saw on Fuel TV. We know Weidman’s background as a wrestler and grappler, and we know how impressive his UFC run has been, given that he was just 4-0 when he entered the promotion.
If all I knew about Weidman was how he performed against Maia, I very well might consider Weidman’s upset of Silva to be one of the biggest ever. So I understand where a lot of people are coming from.
With that said, the hyperbole surrounding the result of this fight is misplaced. According to the closing lines displayed at Best Fight Odds, Weidman was approximately +200 when it was time to fight Silva. That means Weidman was a 2-1 underdog, with Silva being about a 5-2 favorite, or -250.
That’s a significant upset, but not only is it not the biggest upset in UFC history, it’s not even the biggest upset in the UFC this year. In fact, at UFC 156 in February, there were two high-profile fights that were bigger upsets than Weidman-Silva. One was Antonio Silva’s knockout victory over Alistair Overeem at +375, and the other was Antonio Rogerio Nogueira defeating Rashad Evans at +450.
Remember when Rolles Gracie fought at UFC 109? The fight wasn’t televised at all, so I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t remember it. In that fight, Gracie was defeated by second-round TKO against Joey Beltran. Incredibly, Gracie was roughly a 10-1 favorite in that fight, despite his previous MMA record of just 3-0.
Of course, the true biggest upset in UFC history occurred at UFC 69, where Matt Serra defeated Georges St-Pierre. St-Pierre was a 13-1 favorite in that fight, and taking on an opponent who had just edged out Chris Lytle to earn a shot at St-Pierre’s title.
As far as upsets go, Weidman defeating Silva isn’t all that remarkable. It was a historic moment for sure, as the end of Silva’s 16 fight UFC winning streak. The method by which Weidman won (standing knockout) was genuinely surprising. With that said, the fact that Weidman won should not have been so shocking to so many people.