LAS VEGAS – Chris Weidman put a sudden, dramatic halt to Anderson Silva's theatrics and near seven-year Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight title reign Saturday, knocking out Silva in the second round.
Weidman (10-0) belted Silva with a hard left- handed punch that left the longtime champion nearly unconscious on his feet, then followed it with another left that sent Silva to the canvas.
Making his 11th title defense, Silva (33-5) was prone on the MGM Grand Garden Arena mat as Weidman finished him off with a big right hand and a final left before referee Herb Dean stopped the bout, awarding the technical knockout 1:18 into the second.
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After escaping Weidman's takedown and extended grasp and punishment in the first round, Silva started taunting and clowning with Weidman.
He smirked at Weidman's charges, put his hands on his hips dodging a punch, kicked and hit Weidman and retreated while talking trash in a performance reminiscent of Muhammad Ali.
Silva was so bold and so cocky that it seemed another spectacular moment would come from the 38-year-old skilled in so many martial arts disciplines.
Instead, Silva left himself open in the defining moment of the second and surrendered the belt he's owned since October 2006, also losing for the first time in his 17th UFC fight.
“We planned to do certain things if he messed with my head,” Weidman said. “It was” upsetting. “If he was sleeping, I was going to get him.”
Weidman, 29, said he respected Silva and offered him a rematch.
“I felt I was destined for this, but it still seems surreal,” said Weidman, less than a 3-1 underdog at the MGM Resorts' sports books.
Silva signed a 10-fight contract with the UFC in June but initially declined Weidman's rematch offer after working to regain his senses in the post-fight octagon interview.
“Chris Weidman tonight was the best, he's the new champion,” Silva said. “He has my respect. I worked my best, but I did not win. Chris is the champion now. That's it. I finished my work. I'm finished. I held the belts for a long time and now I'm tired.”
Asked if that meant he was retiring, Silva said no. “I have 10 more fights left, but not for the belt. I'm tired. Fighting changed my life, my clothes and my family.”
Weidman did what he said he'd do and took Silva down to the canvas in the opening minute, delivering a good left and rights to Silva's head. Heavier than the other man to most threaten Silva recently — Chael Sonnen — Weidman also delivered a hard right to Silva's face.
But Silva returned to flamboyance early in the second, dancing and daring Weidman to pursue him against the cage.
Weidman didn't fall for the act, pressing on before the pro-Silva crowd to break through where no other fighter had in the past.
Earlier, former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar returned to victory after three consecutive title-fight losses, beating featherweight Charles Oliveira by unanimous decision.
Edgar slugged Oliveira around in the third, beating him up with hard right- handed punches that wobbled the Brazilian. Edgar won by scores of 30-27, 30-27, 29-28.
Also, Palm Springs featherweight Cub Swanson rallied to knock out Germany's Dennis Siver in the third round.