You can’t deem Anderson Silva the greatest mixed martial artist of all time — not when we’ve seen stuff like this:
Jon Jones and Khabib Nurmagomedov never lost at all, let alone viciously and/or consecutively. Georges St-Pierre was finished twice, but he bounced back each time to dominate in a rematch, returning the favor and proving his ability to adapt and overcome.
Silva just kinda lost it.
He’s 1-6 with one no-contest since coughing up his UFC middleweight title to Chris Weidman back in July of 2013 at UFC 162. That win in there, a lackluster decision over Derek Brunson back at UFC 208 in early 2017, is highly debatable, too. To put this timeframe into context, Conor McGregor made his UFC debut just a few months before Silva lost to Weidman, beating Marcus Brimage in April of 2013.
The sport — and the UFC brand — is not the same as it was when Silva ruled the cage. With McGregor’s rise came mainstream attention, massive sponsorships, and a $4 billion sale, launching the UFC to heights previously unexplored.
With this, of course, came an influx of fans.
And with an influx of new fans comes stuff like this:
It’s unreal how much some people overrate Anderson
— Reuben (@Reuben10234982) October 13, 2020
Sorry, Reuben. You might be a hardcore MMA lifer. Maybe you’re not one of these new fans. But you’re also not alone in this sentiment.
It’s a freezing-cold, embarrassing take.
Silva is an underdog in his upcoming fight against Uriah Hall at UFC Vegas 12 on Halloween. That’s true. In his most recent fight, Silva lost via injury — again — in a bout against Jared Cannonier at UFC 237. That’s not good, either.
Here’s the thing: None of this matters.
Silva’s legacy is cemented. His work is done. Any talk of the present or even the recent past is just fluff.
Anderson Silva is the most spectacular fighter of all time.
To see anyone assert he’s actually overrated is to catch a glimpse of somebody who either:
A) Didn’t witness Silva’s prime in real-time
B) Is trolling
C) Can’t count past four
Let’s start here:
We may never see a more dominant performance inside the cage. Actually, you know what? We’ll just let Forrest Griffin explain:
So yeah. Silva did win 17 straight fights from April 2006 to October 2012, finishing 15 of them — which seems pretty good IMO — but his true brilliance runs deeper than that. It goes beyond the numbers.
As Griffin put it, Silva “literally moved his head out of the way and looked at me like I was stupid for [trying to hit him] … I felt like some kid trying to wrestle with his dad.”
Watch (or re-watch) his UFC 134 tilt against Yushin Okami.
In that one, Silva landed 43 of 61 significant strikes across two rounds, a ridiculous 70-percent clip that resulted in two knockdowns, the second of which sealed the deal and gave Silva his ninth title defense at middleweight. And Okami does give it an honest try … for about four minutes. Okami got Silva where he wanted him, clinched and pressed against the cage, early in the fight, leaving some to think he may actually have a chance. This neutralized Silva’s strength and gave Okami the advantage, but ultimately he could do nothing with it. No takedown. No strikes of note. Just a clean break and a circling Silva plotting Okami’s demise.
Everything changed after that exchange. Okami began to retreat, Silva opened up, and the fight turned. By the time the second round rolled around, the fight was a wrap. It was written all over Okami’s face and body language. The question was no longer “Who?” but “When?” and “How?” Soon, we’d get our answers.
Silva knocked down Okami 40 seconds into round 2 with a right, then stepped back and shook his head, wondering how and why that was so damn easy.
Hands on his hips like a disgusted parent, face covered in mockery and confidence, Silva connected again less than a minute later, and some ground-and-pound punctuated the performance. It was never close. It was never fair.
And Silva knew it.
“This is classic Anderson Silva,” commentator Kenny Florian said after the finish. On all levels, Florian nailed it there. It wasn’t just that he won or that he defeated another world-class opponent, it was how he won. Not all TKOs are created equally, and Silva’s hold down a class above.
But if Okami isn’t enough for you, Silva also front-kicked the terrifying, TRT-fueled version of Vitor Belfort into orbit.
He would move up to light heavyweight just for fun (and somehow look even more dominant).
He triangle-armbarred Chael Sonnen out of nowhere at UFC 117, then TKO’ed him in the rematch just in case you thought the first was a fluke.
With Israel Adesanya currently holding middleweight gold (and looking more invincible every time he steps into the cage) rumblings of a “new 185-pound GOAT” are heard in the distance.
But Adesanya’s not there yet. He’s not close. Yeah, he humiliated Paulo Costa after the finish, but that’s just it: It was after the finish. Anderson Silva made his opponents feel silly before, during, and after their fights. It was unlike anything I’d seen up to that point, and it was unlike anything I’ve seen since.
It was spectacular — and to question it reveals nothing but ignorance.