Anansi Tales – Rise of the Bionic Spider

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In West African mythology, Anansi is the trickster god, who takes the form of both a spider and a man and while always in the middle of some kind of grift, he is always more than happy to confound expectations, puncture self importance and generally make everyone’s day just a little more interesting.

Now, who in MMA fits that description?

Of course it’s Anderson ‘the Spider’ Silva – so named for his proficiency in the eight limbed art of Muay Thai – but the similarity to Anansi in terms of seeming to view things, try things and achieve things differently from other folks is there as well.

Dana White posted up a picture the other day saying that Anderson’s leg was healing well following it’s break and he could be walking unsupported within a month.

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Of course, that probably means 2-3 months before meaningful rehab, another 2-3 months for contact sparring and then a 2-3 month camp. At best, we could see Anderson back in the Octagon in August-September, but more likely the start of 2015.

I’m a little torn on Anderson’s potential return.

On one hand there is the concern that at 39 years old (by the time he returns), having achieved almost everything possible in the sport, decidedly NOT needing the money and coming off back to back stoppage losses that he might not be the fighter he once was, his body or his mind might not be quite back in it.

There’s also the concern of seeing him get badly injured in the Octagon. Again.

I don’t think any of us want to see him put in a performance that truly reminds us of his mortality and harms his legacy. Even less, do we want to see him brutally knocked out or injured. I don’t need to hear a man scream in pain the way Anderson did in December EVER again.

But…

Is Anderson Silva mortal? Are his methods supernatural?*

*Obviously the answer here is yes. I’m speaking rhetorically for the benefit of the narrative.

Can any martial arts fan in the world not get a little excited by the idea of an Anderson comeback, an indian summer to his career, perhaps the much-awaited super fight with GSP, a shot at the title, a trilogy bout with Weidman (which could of course be a title match) and then, with his GOAT status assured beyond doubt a triumphant retirement.

On balance, if Anderson is fit in mind and body and really wants to come back, it’s something I’d love (and pay) to see. I bet you would too.

We must remember that the stories belong to Anansi, even when it seems that other character are in the driving seat. Who would bet against the Spider having one last grand trick, one last epic tale, one last big surprise to spring on us?

PS – I feel I have to say something here about Chris Weidman. Like a few folk, I was initially disappointed in the finish of the bout at UFC 168 – for all that it was a clean and righteous stoppage, the fact that it came from blocking an attack rather than making one and the sheer suddenness of it all made it feel a bit cheap – the kind of finish I’d feel unsatisfied by if it was in a pro wrestling match.

With a little distance, I don’t feel that way.

In fact, I’m more of the opinion that Weidman isn’t really getting the credit he deserves for his achievement. He’s stopped the greatest fighter of all time, within two rounds, twice – and neither were flukes or freak events.

The first time came via his tuning into the rhythm of Anderson’s ‘clowning’ evasion moves (nobody had ever done that before) and landing a punch on the button.

The second time came from his improving his game to negate the area Anderson had the most success in the first fight (leg kicks) and he improved his checking to a degree that he broke Anderson’s leg with the check.

Weidman has twice defeated the consensus GOAT, both times showing a versatility and maturity beyond his years or experience and he showed an evolution as a martial artist between the fights. Credit where it’s due, or in other words…

The King is Dead, All Hail the King.

However, let us remember that history is written by the victor, and all the stories belong to Anansi…

(In a totally non-MMA related aside, I’d also recommend checking out the music of the band Skunk Anansie and Neil Gaiman’s take on the character in the novels American Gods and Anansi Boys.)

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