When Anderson Silva started his career in 1997, it began humbly in his home country of Brazil.
When it ends, it will no doubt be on the biggest stage, in front of one of the biggest audiences the sport has ever seen.
Silva isn’t just a fighter anymore; he’s a legend with a very impressive list of victims: Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin, Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort, Hayato Sakurai, Nate Marquardt and so many others.
And it’s not just the names on the list, it’s how he disposed of many of them: easily.
But no matter how many men a champion fights, there’s always one more waiting.
When Anderson Silva retires, he can say he was the best of his time, even if he is defeated by Chael Sonnen in their upcoming rematch, or anyone else. He’s been that good.
As the road begins to narrow, there are still great fights to be had, both for himself and the fans. For the sake of argument, I’ve made a list of six opponents I’d like to see Silva face before he retires.
Granted, when watching a true superstar do his thing, “one more time” is never enough, but still, a fight with any one of these men would be a nice finishing touch to his career.
No one really likes seeing a fighter put in a situation where friendships may be strained; but some fights are so compelling that you can’t stop thinking about them.
Anderson Silva vs. Shogun is one such bout.
Silva is the better striker, but Shogun is not all that far behind. And on the ground, well…who knows?
The rest is an equally mixed bag: Silva has the experience, Shogun the horsepower. Speed also belongs to Anderson “The Spider” Silva. However, Shogun has proven to be so tenacious that being hit repeatedly won’t throw him off his game plan.
There would be fireworks, for sure. Both men love to fight standing, and stylistically, it would be interesting to see if Silva could maintain his defensive brilliance against Shogun’s onslaught for a full five rounds.
This is a fight that has knockout written all over it.
This is one of the few super-fights involving Anderson Silva that actually has a chance of happening.
Georges St.-Pierre is the best in his division, as Silva has proven to be in his. Should Silva beat Sonnen again, then this kind of mega-bout could be the final jewel in Silva’s crown.
But he’d have to beat GSP first.
GSP would have the advantage in take-downs and top control, but the rest looks like it would belong to Silva.
Still, if GSP could take Silva down and hold him down like Sonnen did in their first match, he’d have a very good chance of winning.
Silva has many more ways to win, and would be the naturally bigger, longer fighter.
And when a man like Silva has those advantages of weight and stamina in addition to his amazing striking and power, well, a great big man usually beats a great small man.
But there would be nothing small about this fight. It would smash records, especially if it was held in either Canada or Brazil.
Yeah, I know, the chances of this fight happening are slim to none, but it would still be a great fight.
Jon Jones would have the advantage in terms of length, strength and wrestling, but Silva is so far above Jones when it comes to striking, speed and negating distance that he could probably thread the eye of the needle all night long.
This would be an epic clash that would see the best young fighter in the world against the best fighter in the world, period. Would youth and athleticism trump experience and skill?
It would be great to see, for as long as the fight remained standing. Odds are Team Jackson wouldn’t want Jones to risk fighting the best striker in the game in a stand-up war—not when the odds favor Jones when it comes to take-downs and top control.
Jones would probably tie Silva up every chance he got, toss him to the floor, and try to keep him on his back all night long.
But Jones is a gutsy fighter, and on the ground he’d no doubt go for any kind of finish that seems available. He could end the night early with one of his chokes. If he got too anxious, Silva could escape to his feet and it begins all over again.
If it stayed on the feet, Silva would have a good chance of dancing in and out of danger while scoring heavily.
In a fight like this, between fighters this good—who knows?
But that’s one question I’d love to see both of these men answer.
This is a very good clash of styles: speed, strength and wrestling vs. striking, speed and submissions.
Rashad Evans is a very fast fighter with the hands and shins to end the night early for any fighter, and his wrestling is good enough to take almost anyone down and keep them down.
Silva is, of course, the best striker in the business, with the same level of KO power and the same speed. When it comes to submissions, he has a distinct advantage over Evans.
Could Silva do as he has done so many other times in the past and make Evans look like an amateur? Or would Evans be able to follow the blueprint of Sonnen and put Silva on his back, punishing him with punches that have a lot more on them than those of Sonnen?
Evans would stick with the basics and push for takedowns all night long, after he set up those takedowns with honest attempts at putting Silva’s lights out with punches.
In that scenario, it seems probable that we’d get to see Silva shine in his natural element, unloading on Evans with just about every kind of strike in the book.
Either way, it would be compelling and dramatic.
Same song, next verse.
In their first fight, Dan Henderson was doing well against Silva, taking him down and controlling him on the ground in Round 1.
In Round 2, Silva stepped on the gas pedal and choked Henderson out.
Would it be any different in a rematch?
If one thing seems clear, it’s that both men have gotten better with age. Henderson has developed one of the best fight-ending right hands in all of MMA.
When Tommy Hearns fought Marvin Hagler, there was but one question on everyone’s mind: can Hagler handle Hearns’ big right hand?
In this fight, the question would be: can Henderson even land his right hand on Silva?
Odds are, he probably couldn’t, and that would see him being dissected on his feet all night long, reminiscent of how Silva routed Chris Leben.
But still, it makes the list because Henderson has proven everyone wrong before, and if Silva had even one mental slip, Henderson would tuck him into bed.
But you don’t get to be the longest reigning champion in UFC history if you can’t focus. In all probability, the results of Silva’s attention to detail would be written in blood all over Henderson’s face.
This one is for the Brits.
For a long time, there have been more than a few British fans saying that Michael Bisping has the exact style needed to defeat Anderson Silva.
Win or lose, it would be the greatest night of Bisping’s life, especially if the fight were held in the UK.
It would be huge for the sport and the cause of MMA in England: an arena full of Brits finally getting to see their favorite son fighting for the title. To be honest, this is as close to a Cinderella story as we’re likely to see in some time.
Odds are Bisping would get blown out of the water, but he’d be fighting the very best in the world, and there is no shame in losing to a gentleman like Anderson Silva.
And what if he won?