I remember where I was when it happened.
I had been watching UFC 148 at The Sidebar, a block away from the Spokane Courthouse. I had ordered my cheeseburger and finished my third bottle of Bud Light as Chael Sonnen made his way into the octagon. DMX’s “Ain’t No Sunshine” blasted through the television speakers and Anderson Silva’s face appeared on all of the television screens scattered throughout the bar. And that it when I heard it.
Behind me at one of the bigger tables came the sound of clapping and cheering as “The Spider” made his way to the cage. Judging by the shorts and the shirts and the sweat, I wagered these guys trained at a local gym.
Whether or not they were fighters or just trained for the hell of it, they were cheering for Silva when he stepped into the cage. They were cheering for him as his knee landed in Sonnen’s chest – or face depending on who you talk to – and they were cheering for him when the referee raised his hand and Dana White wrapped the belt around his waist.
It was no illusion. It was no lie. These guys were Anderson Silva fans.
Silva recently made comments about how the U.S. media are fans are biased, citing the cheers Chris Weidman received after he finished The Spider in the first round of their fight back in July.
The former middleweight champion is correct in that American fans are biased. They are as biased as Brazilian fans who cheer and shout Portuguese threats at the fighter standing opposite Vitor Belfort in the main event of a UFC card. They are as biased as Japanese fans who cheer when Kazushi Sakuraba walks out to the ring, wearing the shoulder pads and face paint, similar to the Road Warriors. They are as biased as the Canadian fans whose roars fill the Montreal Bell Centre when Georges St-Pierre walks to the octagon.
American fans are as biased as fans from any country. After all that is what makes them fans in the first place.
As fans we are allowed to cheer whoever we want, whether it is because the fighter is from the same country or we cheer them because we love watching them in the cage. I know some fans who will cheer for a fighter because she likes their hair.
And Silva does have a point. There were many American fans who cheered when Weidman won. Some of them were doing it because they wanted to see Weidman win the title. Others were doing it because they were happy to see The Spider drop the title.
Most of them were hooting because they thought that Silva had gotten what he deserved for “disrespecting” his opponent and – as one of my former coworkers wisely put it – “being a cocky bastard.”
Still, for all of the MMA fans who were happy that Silva had dropped the title, there were fans who were upset that Silva lost, despite voicing their disapproval of the Spider’s actions during the fight.
These fans are also the same ones who will be waiting to see their hero step into the octagon at UFC 168.
These fans will be cheering for The Spider as he fights to get back his championship.