Abu Dhabi: Everything was close to perfect until the final bout on Saturday's Ultimate Fight Challenge (UFC) card degenerated into a farce.
Anderson "The Spider" Silva, one of the most esteemed Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters in the world, may have won the middleweight title with a victory over underdog Demian Maia but he also lost his honour.
Silva mocked and derided his bloodied opponent before pounding out a five-round victory in front of 11,000 spectators at Yas Island. Boos and catcalls greeted Silva who had earlier received a rousing hero's welcome as he entered the Octagon for the eagerly awaited fight.
Like many disappointed fight fans, UFC president Dana White showed his anger at the Brazilian's unsportsmanlike behaviour by throwing the championship belt to the floor and storming out of the arena. It is perhaps the first time that he was not presenting the belt to the winner.
Livid with rage and apologetic to the core, White later slammed Silva and promised to take action against the fighter who had set a new record for most successful title defences ever.
"Believe me, I'll answer the questions of what a disgrace that main event was," was White's opening sentence at the post-event press conference. "It was a great night. To end it the way that he did was an embarrassment to me, to the UFC, to [UFC owners] the Fertittas, and to the UAE.
"I don't know how yet but I will make it up to the fans," he said apologetically. "I'm so blown away and disgusted and saddened."
"If you're that talented, be Mike Tyson. Go in there and finish it. I wouldn't come in here at all if I were him," an angry White said of Silva whose fight record improved to 25 wins, 15 knockouts, and four Losses. Maia dropped to 12 wins, 2 KO's, and one Loss.
Silva had the opportunity to try and regain some respect when Gulf News asked him whether he owed an apology to the paying public. But he was unrepentant.
"I don't feel like I owe anyone an apology right now. Sometimes fights turn out good, sometimes they turn out bad," he said.
White said he was ‘baffled' that Silva would not apologise.
"The one thing that's even more baffling is that he doesn't feel like he owes the fans an apology, but I'm apologising. I didn't go in there and fight like a jackass for five rounds."
Fans from across the globe attended the showpiece event with gate takings reaching an impressive Dh12.8 million and merchandise sales on the night amounting to Dh448,000. The event was also televised into an estimated half a billion homes right around the world. While an estimated live gate collection through pay-per-view fetched $3.5 million (Dh12 million).
Earlier action in the Octagon thrilled the fans and peaked when Frankie Edgar wrested the belt from defending champion and favourite B.J Penn to become the new lightweight champion.
The packed crowd showered their appreciation as Edgar's wife, pregnant with their second son, celebrated with him in the cage.