Say what you want to about UFC Fight Night 84’s main event at the O2 Arena, but it was Anderson Silva himself who cost him that match.

Silva came to the match a -275 favourite against Bisping’s +210 (via Bovada) and he didn’t just have the odds in his favour but history as well. Bisping’s record is 16-1 when he is a favourite while the Count was a mere 1-6 as an underdog coming in.  However, in perhaps his last run at a UFC belt, Bisping brought everything he had and showed tremendous grit to defy not just the odds but history as well.

It all started out with confidence. Sure, both men talked trash but when it was time to fight, the first thing Bisping had to do was honestly believe he could beat the greatest mixed martial artist of All-Time. Chris Weidman said it perfectly:

Aside from that, Weidman made another important point:

Although we still had goosebumps when Anderson made his way to the Octagon, we didn’t see much of the aura the moment Bisping connected his first punches on the legend. Legend? yes but invincible no more. It was Weidman himself who took that away from Silva when he beat the Spider in succession at UFC 162 and UFC 168. Silva broke his leg in the second of those two defeats and with it his invincibility was a shattered glass he tried to put together again. Silva beat a game Nate Diaz in his famous comeback but Bisping didn’t allow himself to be just another footnote in Silva’s legacy.

Silva looked better than he did against Diaz, but he was definitely no longer the dominant force who once  went unbeaten in 2,457 days and won 16 consecutive bouts including 10 straight title bouts. It wasn’t just the defeats to Weidman but father time had caught up with Silva as it did the greatest athletes of every sport.

When Bisping dropped Silva in Round 2, we knew something wasn’t right:

The Silva that came to London didn’t have the same speed and the same chin according to Kenny Florian. But he was still damn good. After surviving that scare, Silva rose like the Phoenix in the following round and took advantage of Bisping’s momentary loss of concentration:

Silva’s flying knee landed almost exactly as the horn sounded. And while Bisping was definitely seriously hurt, he wasn’t out. The Count, bloodied and dazed, managed to point something out to Herb Dean during the moment where Dean could have waved off the fight. After looking at Bisping, Dean told the celebrating Silva and his camp that the fight wasn’t over. That was the beginning of the end for Anderson Silva.

When the fourth round began, Bisping could hardly see with all the blood dripping down his face. He was still very dazed but instead of piling up the points or finish off Bisping with a flurry of strikes, Silva patiently waited and picked his spots. It seemed that he was trying to set up something special, a highlight reel KO that would perhaps catapult him to a title shot. Sure, he landed the cleaner blows from then on. But he let Bisping recover and eventually finish the fight on his feet.

In the fifth another highlight reel kick nearly finished off Bisping, but it seemed that the Count’s heart was bigger than Silva’s killer instinct on Saturday night. That cost him the fight and perhaps the last chance to regain his lost glory.

MMA isn’t won by point scoring. But it’s not also won by highlight reel strikes. FighMetric had Bisping  outlanding Silva 112 to 75 in total strikes, including 108-75 in significant strikes. The Briton outstruck Silva 41-19 in the first two rounds. All three judges gave Bisping the first two rounds:

No question on Round 3 because it was Silva’s best round of the night. In the fourth, Silva outlanded Bisping 28-19. However, had Silva pounced on him at the start of round four, the fight could have been over as Bisping was still visibly hurt when the round began. But Silva, like the days of old, chose to stalk his prey and move like Keanu Reeves in the Matrix movie. That was cool and it was great to Silva get loose and enjoy himself inside the octagon. But if he was waiting for a highlight reel KO that never came, it was a mistake. He probably forgot that he was fighting an opponent known to have a high work rate. Bisping outworked Silva 80-27 in significant strikes attempted. Forget that only 19 landed but for a guy who was nearly knocked out one round earlier, Bisping did great. In fact, he did enough in the eyes of the judges, who don’t have the luxury of replay or FightMetric stats,  to win the round and the fight for that matter.

Silva finished strong but it wasn’t enough to win on points. Much as fans like to see highlight reel KOs, fighters must do anything legal to win, even if it means just piling up the points and strikes. Bisping did that and was rewarded. Silva meanwhile, tried to relive his legend but failed to pull off a KO even from his diverse bag of tricks.

Silva does have a right to claim he won the last three rounds, but he didn’t show much urgency:

Weirder that Silva didn’t have the urgency to finish the fight in the 4th round. Perhaps he no longer has the killer instinct anymore. It’s been his style, to do what only he does, but after Weidman knocked him out, all those moves won’t win fights anymore. Silva may go on to fight again, as he says he doesn’t plan to retire yet. But he’s got to realise this is a different era right now. If clowning got him knocked out by Weidman twice, he’ll be killed by the more athletic middleweights like Rockhold who are simply too fast and powerful for the Anderson Silva of today. As for Bisping, he may not get the title shot, but he surely got the victory he always wanted. And he has Anderson to be thankful for that.