The A-Z on Anderson Silva: 26 Things You Need to Know About the UFC Legend
Anderson Silva is the most successful UFC fighter of all time. He's stood across the cage from another human being, usually a snarling pitbull of a man, 14 times in his UFC career. Every time, ten times in title fights, he's walked out of the cage with his head held high.
Many of the UFC's top fighters historically have made their bones the conservative way—by putting their opponent on his back and keeping them there over the entire course of the fight. For a wrestler, it's the safest route to victory. Matt Hughes and Tito Ortiz rode that style all the way to the UFC Hall of Fame. Georges St-Pierre will join them there when his career is over.
Silva is the outlier. In a sport historically dominated by grapplers, he's a striker who has made shutting off another man's brain, at least temporarily, an art form. His creativity, adaptability and incredible speed have made him a legend. He's shown there are other avenues to success in the Octagon, and in doing so, become an icon on three continents.
Anderson Silva, despite being the best fighter in the UFC, is a bit of an enigma. Partially due to a language barrier, partially due to a fierce grasp on his privacy, few know what makes this man tick.
With 26 individual, but interconnected essays, I'll give dissecting Silva a shot—it's Anderson Silva A-Z.
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Anderson Silva is more than just the best fighter in mixed martial arts history, though he is surely that as well. Silva transcends fighting, is bigger than the cage they use to contain him. More than a fighter, he's an artist.
Sure the canvas is often spattered with blood and the other man's deflated dreams, but that doesn't diminish his art. It amplifies it. After all, Picasso didn't have to dodge punches while he painted his masterpieces.
To borrow from myself, as tacky and gauche as that may be, Silva is more than the statistics the UFC uses to define his greatness. When it comes to describing his performance, math just isn't going to cut it:
But Anderson Silva isn't a fighter to judge by numbers. His is a legacy built on style and daring, the amazing and the sublime. Even when Silva has an off night, like he did in 2010 against Demian Maia, he does it in such epic fashion that you can never forget it, dancing around the cage and taunting Maia mercilessly. Anderson Silva isn't even boring when he's being boring.
What I love about Silva's dominance is how effortless it looks. We know, in our minds, that he spends hours in the gym perfecting his skills. But it sure doesn't look that way. He seems detached from it all, the sweat and stink of the gym, the tedious study of film, of fear and feeling pain.
Anderson Silva shouldn't go home to a family and watch episodes of Gossip Girl. Anderson Silva is more mysterious than that. He must while away the hours with Asian monks, alternating between transcendental meditation and all night Frogger tournaments in which, blindfolded, he always gets the fly and never once lands on the crocodile's mouth.
We know in our minds, in that cruel organ that demands we recognize his age, the wear on his body from a life of fighting and the limits of the human body. But we can hope, in our hearts, that Silva has a little Randy Couture in him, that we can see him redefine what is possible for another decade. Because the sport will be a sadder place when he's gone.
Boxing and mixed martial arts continue to walk the same path, tied together by the public, promoters and their own inherent similarities. It was inevitable that they collide in the cage—and it finally happened at the main event level in 2010.
In that bout, former champion Randy Couture took on washed up boxer James Toney. It was easy pickings for Couture. Not only was the boxer a blown up middleweight, he was on Couture's turf. In the cage, under MMA rules, it was Couture's fight to lose.
Couture's challenge was far from daunting. Now Anderson Silva's 2008 challenge to Roy Jones Jr, that was a man's doing. Silva, a longtime admirer of Jones, didn't dare the former boxing champion to step into the cage and fight him. He volunteered to go into the ring and take the best Jones had to offer in a boxing match. That friends is courage.
“We respect Jones’ boxing ability and think he’s one of the best,” Silva's agent Ed Soares told MMA Weekly. “But we’re tired of different boxers saying that MMA fighters aren't technical. Anderson would love to fight Roy Jones in a boxing match under boxing rules to prove that MMA fighters are technical, too.”
In the end, contracts and an open UFC pocketbook stopped this fight in its tracks. But it would've been something to see. And let the record show—Silva was ready to lay it all on the line.
C: Chute Boxe Academy
Like many of Brazil's top stars, Silva came up in the sport as a member of the fearsome Chute Boxe Academy. Their's was a name only spoken in whispers. It was a camp that seemed to spawn only the most insanely violent MMA fighters—men with nicknames like the "Axe Murderer" and "Shogun."
Silva doesn't have fond memories of those days. He left the team and in his recently released biography has little good to say about its leading lights. He detailed a confrontation with coach Rafael Cordeira that led to Silva going home to get a gun. Pele Landi-Jons, Silva says, was a bully. And head coach Rudimar Fedrigo was identified as a "bad person."
Fedrigo isn't going to take the comments in Silva's book laying down. He sued the fighter in Brazil for slights on his reputation. The case is still being adjudicated.
“It saddened me so much, I'm very upset it got this this point. Not once did Anderson ever tell me anything face to face, eye to eye. It is lamentable that after so many years he shot me in the back and in such a cowardly fashion,” he told R7.com. “He questioned my qualifications, which is absurd. There is a part in which he says I am a bad person and in another he raises doubts about my gradings... Look, he missed the truth with all of that. Unfortunately I had to take a decision.”
D: Doshita No
Many of the greatest stars of the Japanese MMA scene came to America seeking fame and fortune on a new continent. What they found, too often for some fans, was bitter and ugly defeat. Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Cro Cop, "Kid" Yamamoto and Takanori Gomi all failed to take wing when unceremoniously plopped down in the middle of the Octagon and asked to perform on the world's biggest stage.
Anderson Silva's is the opposite story. He took our perceptions and flipped them, judo style, upside down. Fighters from Japan have been failing in the UFC for years, from Caol Uno to Hayato Sakurai all the way back to Ken Shamrock representing Pancrase at UFC 1. But who goes to Japan, fails dramatically, and then comes to America like a skinny Eddie Murphy, all cheeky confidence and spinning headkicks?
The Japanese phrase "Doshito No", loosely translated, means "What the heck happened." And it's a question that applies to Silva's Pride tenure in Japan from 2002-2004. While a knockout win over Carlos Newton looms proud and strong on his resume, embarrassing losses to Daiju Takase and Ryo Chonan defy belief.
Why didn't Silva become a Pride star? What prevented him from excelling in the land of the rising sun, and just as importantly, how did he turn things around when he reached the UFC?
Doshito No? What happened? We'll never know.
Wait a second Silva....
Like many Brazilian fighters, Silva conducts his interviews with the American media through a translator. But he does, without question, speak and understand some English. How much? Opponent Chael Sonnen raised the question, while suggesting at the same time, Silva pretends not to speak the Queen's tongue in order to avoid his fans.
"Nobody tunes in to watch him anyways, and his little fake 'I don't speak English.' You want me to let you in on a secret, Anderson Silva speaks perfect English," Sonnen said. "He just has such a low amount of respect for you and all the rest of the media that he pretends he doesn't. I've had conversations with Anderson Silva in perfect English, and on top of that he's so boring to listen to that he and his rocket scientist manager, Ed Soares, who is also about as exciting as watching grass grow, have decided that Ed is better on the mic than Anderson, so just let Ed do the talking."
While I can personally confirm that Silva does speak some English, the extent of his fluency is an open question. Silva's manager Ed Soares says that like many people using a second language, Silva is more comfortable using a translator for media questions that can be fairly complicated, but confirms that Silva does have some English language skills.
Is Silva avoiding fans and media obligations by pretending not to speak English? I can't say. I can pass on a funny story about a Brazilian fighter I won't name. When asked for an interview backstage at a UFC event he politely explained that he couldn't speak English.
Where was that same fighter later that night? If you guessed "serving as a Portuguese-to-English translator in the middle of the Octagon, you're our lucky winner.
F: Front Kick
We've seen a lot of successful headkick knockouts since Pete Williams almost decapitated former champion Mark Coleman back at UFC 15. We've seen soccer kicks, axe kicks, roundhouse kicks, even leg kicks, used as a finishing blow.
But the front kick was left all alone, lonely, resigned to being a part of what MMA fans and fighters sneeringly refer to as "traditional martial arts." Until one man came to the rescue, riding into town like the action hero he is to bring glory back to a technique as old as fighting.
That man was Steven Seagal.
I kid you not. That wasn't me checking to see if you are paying attention. Steven Seagal, the overweight action star who once amazed audiences with his aikido prowess in films like Under Siege and Ponytail Cop Seeks Vengeance apparently taught both Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida lead leg front kicks they used to great success in UFC fights.
“Steven Seagal helped me perfect that kick. That was a kick we were working on before I stepped in,” Silva said through a translator at the post-fight press conference after dropping Vitor Belfort. “This was a kick that I trained a lot.”
Once again, Anderson Silva leaves me speechless. We've come to expect absurd greatness from the man. But to master the art of product placement and marketing as well as the arts martial? Silva is truly a multi-talented man.
G: Griffin, Forrest
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images
Forrest Griffin ain't no punk. I think it's important to get that out of the way up front. The man is a former light heavyweight champion. Together with Stephan Bonnar, his performance in the season finale of the first The Ultimate Fighter helped save the sport from obscurity. He's gone head-to-head with the legends of this industry, never once so much as blinking.
Forrest Griffin is a first ballot UFC Hall of Famer.
That's what made Anderson Silva's performance in their 2009 fight so remarkable. Silva absolutely clowned Griffin. He dropped his hands, daring the bigger man to throw his. And when he did, Silva simply, elegantly, easily, dodged every single punch. Every one!
Had Forrest called out what he was going to throw, pro wrestling style, Silva still couldn't have made it look any easier. Then, after showing off his feline reflexes, Silva nonchalantly stuck out a hand, tossing a jab out like he was going to tousle Griffin's hair.
Griffin fell to the mat, whether from the pain, the shock, or the embarrassment, no one can say. It remains, and will always be, one of the most incredible things I've ever seen in the cage.
Anderson Silva is the king of the highlight reel. Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort and Chael Sonnen have been immortalized on the wrong end of Silva's fists, feet and grappling prowess respectively.
But, as the country song goes, "sometimes your the windshield, sometimes your the bug." Against Ryo Chonan, Silva was the bug. A dashing Praying Mantis perhaps, but a bug nonetheless.
The Japanese journeyman, on his way to a decision win over Silva, punctuated a great night with an incredible submission. You probably haven't seen many flying heel hooks. Please enjoy the one above.
The best fighters in the world are capable of taking a great game plan and making it sing. Of drilling a technique over and over again until it becomes muscle memory. Of hiding their weaknesses while highlighting their opponent's.
Anderson Silva does all of that. But he also has that fighter's gene that transforms the great into the transcendent. There's something in his brain that allows him to adjust, in midfight, to his opponent's rhythm. A little voice that tells him things like "I'll bet a spinning elbow would work here."
Silva, like the amazing light heavyweight Jon Jones, can't just rely on the established orthodoxy, the moves that everyone is comfortable with, the familiar. Anderson Silva needs to invent combinations, try things that haven't been tried, needs to reinvent cage fighting to express his skills, not conform to what people "know" will work.
That friends, is the sign of an artist at work.
J: Jiu Jitsu
Anderson Silva is quite possibly the most dangerous striker in MMA. He is lethal with all of Muay Thai's eight appendages. That's made the takedown an obvious gameplan for opponents to follow.
A word of caution: careful.
Silva is sneaky on the ground. He doesn't have the sport jiu jitsu credentials that typically signify a threat. He came up as a kickboxer, in a school that actively loathed jiu jitsu artists. And, yes, he'd prefer to punch you in the face.
But Anderson Silva will straight choke a fool out.
Dan Henderson can attest to that fact. So can Ultimate Fighter winner Travis Lutter:
We knew—by this point you'd have to be blind not to know—that Silva was one of the best strikers in the world. But how well he'd do against a great grappler was an open question.
At UFC 67, Silva answered the question in the most definitive way possible—by tapping Lutter out with a triangle choke of his own.
There are few things as brutal and disheartening as a well executed Thai plum. Just look at poor Rich Franklin's face as he tries to fend off Anderson Silva. The "Spider" is locked in tight though, and there is no escape. Silva's hands are locked around the base of Franklin's skull. Knees are soon to follow. There is no escape.
The Thai plum, also called a double collar tie, is a Chute Boxe Academy staple. But Bloody Elbow's Jack Slack, while crediting those that came before, makes it clear that he thinks Silva took the technique to a new level:
Where Wanderlei Silva brought the Thai plum to popularity in MMA, and Shogun Rua carried the torch, Anderson Silva has added a further technical element to what the former two fighters used as a brute strength technique. Silva's numerous methods of entering the Thai plum and unbalancing the opponent have taken his clinch work several levels above his mentor's.
For Silva, the Thai plum is both an offensive and defensive technique. It makes him doubly dangerous. He can pick you apart at a distance, but if you close towards the clinch, beware. The plum, and behind it those wrecking ball knees, is coming.
L: Leben, Chris
I'm going to make a confession. I do this in the spirit of full disclosure, but also because a post exists on a forgotten message board making this all public information. I've tried to put this out of my mind, but the Internet never forgets.
In 2006, at the height of The Ultimate Fighter mania, I thought Chris Leben was going to beat Anderson Silva. Ricidulous as it sounds, I wasn't alone. It's just that few will have the guts to share their delusions they way I have here.
Silva, to be fair, was coming off a disappointing stint in Pride. Leben's Team Quest pedigree and hard head would allow him to close the distance and take Silva down. Let's all take a moment to laugh at me. Then, now united by laughter, we can turn our mocking voices towards Leben himself, who also thought he could win, telling a national television audience:
"When I get in there, I'm in his face, I'm pressing the action. I'm roughnecking him. I'm punching him. He's punching me and I'm eating his shots and just blasting him back in the face? He's not going to be able to handle it."
To be that innocent and naive again. Anderson Silva beat those delusions out of Leben in the cage. The rest of us, haters all, took our beatings by proxy. All told, that's the better way.
Hayato "Mach" Sakurai was a monster. When he was at his best, anything feat was within his grasp. There was no bar too high for him to reach. In The MMA Encyclopedia, Kendall Shields laid down truth:
From any position, in any situation, he was dangerous. Whether hanging back and landing those punishing leg kicks, or clinching up to deliver knees to the body or launch into a huge hip throw, Sakurai was always more than most could handle on their feet. And once the fight got to the ground, his opponents had to contend with a man who finished second in the open-weight category at the 1999 ADCC submission wrestling championship—as a welterweight.
Over the course of five years and twenty professional fights, no man could rightfully call themselves "Mach's" master. Until Anderson Silva. In August, 2001, Silva ended Sakurai's streak, announcing himself as a potential future champion and someone worth watching.
UFC stars are not at the top of the food chain when it comes to endorsements. You won't see any fighters at the top of the sport's world's annual "best paid" list, alongside luminaries like Tiger Woods and David Beckham.
Our athletes have to settle for more modest goals. Just a few years ago, that might mean something as crass a temporary tattoo advertising an online gambling site. Maybe a patch representing a local restaurant. If you were really lucky, Mask and the boys over at TapouT would take you under their wing.
The day we would see a UFC fighter wearing Nike and pitching tennis shoes seemed very distant indeed. But Anderson Silva has lept that gulf, the one separating fighters from soccer players and more hoity toity athletes.
He and the shoe giant joined forces in 2011 according to Sherdog. And it wasn't Silva's only major deal:
The Brazilian branch of fast-food giant Burger King announced Silva as one of its new promotional faces. On Monday, officials from Brazilian soccer team Sport Club Corinthians Paulista -- also sponsored by Nike -- announced a multi-tiered marketing initiative in which the pound-for-pound great will be prominently featured. Silva, a well-known Corinthians booster, will don the club’s jersey during his entrance at UFC 134 and will lend his name to a new MMA facility to be constructed by the team in his hometown of Sao Paulo.
All three of Silva’s recent sponsorship deals were brokered by 9ine, the upstart sports marketing firm with whom Silva joined forces in January. The founder of 9ine, recently retired soccer great Ronaldo, was himself a longtime Nike spokesman who finished his career playing for Corinthians.
A Burger King spokesman explained their rationale in a statement:
"Anderson has a great identity with the brand, is an idol of many audiences, especially young people, our main customers. We believe he has much to contribute to make the new campaign more fun and impactful."
With these mega deals, Anderson has taken his stardom to a new level of mainstream. Silva's new motto isn't "Just Do It." It's "Just Did It."
And hopefully he's paved the way for others to follow in his footsteps and his swooshes.
O: Oh My God
At some point MMA fans become a little jaded. There is no violence that can satisfy our bloodlust. That awesome right hook you just landed to plant a guy on the mat? Seen it. Seen it earlier on this card. Already tweeted it and posted a GIF on Facebook.
But occasionally, a fighter does something that makes even the most cynical, seen- it- all MMA fan leap out of his chair. Usually that fighter's name is Anderson Silva. An example? His ludicrous knockout of Tony Fryklund in Cage Rage, truly an "Oh My God" moment:
Although Tony Fryklund's name has been forgotten with time, at one point he was one of those fighters who other fighters talked about. Fryklund hadn't excelled in the cage—but in the gym he was competitive with some of the best fighters in the world.
Against Anderson Silva, he quickly realized that Cage Rage was not Miletich's gym. It's not remarkable that Silva beat Fryklund. What's remarkable is his casual elegance while doing so.
Things started off so well for Anderson Silva in the now defunct Pride promotion. At the time, the Japanese show was the hottest thing in mixed martial arts. The world's best, as well as a hodge podge collection of pro wrestlers and pituitary giants, all gathered to compete in a traditional ring, surrounded by pomp, circumstance and thousands of Japanese fans.
Silva earned his place in the big show with his win over Sakurai. Once there, he proved he belonged, beating Alex Steibling, Alexander Otsuka, and most impressively, former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton. He should have run right through Daiju Takase too. But something funny happened on the way to certain victory—Anderson Silva got tapped out by a fighter who currently rocks a 10-13-2 career record. Bloody Elbow's Chris Nelson sets the stage:
In June 2003, a 25-year-old Takase carried a 4-7-1 record into his Pride 26 bout with Anderson Silva, who had just reeled off nine straight wins. Before the fight, commentator Stephen Quadros asked broadcast partner Bas Rutten what Takase’s keys to victory could possibly be in this "potential disaster" of a match-up. "Very little," replied Rutten. "But, hey, don’t count anybody out," he added as an afterthought.
Eight minutes and thirty-three seconds later, after dominating the match with top control and threatening with multiple submissions, Takase forced Silva to tap to a deep triangle choke, becoming the first man in MMA to ever finish "The Spider."
Silva came out strong, but once the fight hit the ground, it never again returned to the standing position. Silva would lose his subsequent Pride fight to Ryo Chonan as well, ending up out of the promotion.
He landed in the UFC, tore off 14 wins in a row and never looked back. But the stain on his otherwise impeccable record remains. Silva may be the greatest MMA fighter of all time, the world his oyster—but Takase will always have Yokohama and quite the tale to tell.
Anderson Silva is a man who lets his actions speak for him. Before the fight he doesn't relish the constant media appearances and all the hoops necessary to promote a fight to millions. As you see in the documentary Like Water, Silva dreads this part of the game, to the point he sometimes refuses outright to participate.
After his disastrous fight with Demian Maia at UFC 112, Silva refused any apologies for his poor perfomance. When questions poured in at a prefight press call before his next fight, he dismissed them or answered them curtly, often with a single word. The media, represented here by Yahoo's Steve Cofield, was furious:
Silva showed a little contrition in the immediate aftermath but during a UFC 117 teleconference, to preview next weekend's main event, it was good to find out the old Silva is still alive and well.
Showing once again he doesn't get it, the UFC middleweight champ made gave plenty of one-word answers and mocked most of the questions. It's the fight game. Part of your job is to sell the fight and in doing so raise your own profile. It's fine Silva's a jerk, we get that. But at least embrace it.
Floyd Mayweather is a genius. He gets it. As long as you pick a side, Floyd is happy. That's why he's making $25 million a fight. Silva is on the opposite end of the spectrum. His approach during an incredible 11-fight UFC win streak is still why almost no one outside of MMA has any idea who he is.
With the camera rolling for Like Water, we got to see Silva's manager Ed Soares respond to his conference call shenanigans. He was seemingly as upset as Cofield. Arlen Delgado reviewed the film for Breitbart and found Soares a compelling figure:
One feels sympathy, actually, for he who bears the unenviable task of managing the sometimes-difficult champion. During one scene of a media conference call on which Silva and Sonnen participate, Silva refuses to answer most of the reporters’ questions. Whether Silva is understandably tired and annoyed by answering the same old questions over and over, or whether he is behaving as a spoiled celebrity, is up to the viewer to decide. But watching the irritated Soares cringe as he listens in on the call via speaker phone, shaking his head in frustration as Silva answers each question with a curt “no”, and watching as Soares nervously takes a call from a none-too-happy White, one realizes the difficulties of managing the champion.
For two years Chael Sonnen has been in Anderson Silva's grill. He's called him names, insulted his intelligence, his country, his legacy, his friends and family. Finally, during a conference call promoting their UFC 148 rematch, Silva couldn't stand it anymore.
The soft spoken champion snapped. He told the world he wasn't just going to beat Sonnen a second time, he was going to do things so awful that people would have to reevaluate how they picture mixed martial arts.
"I'm going to break every bone in his face and all of the teeth in his mouth," the champion proclaimed. "...I'm going to break his arms, his legs and every one of his teeth." Silva showed the world the truth about his intentions. And it wasn't to win a simple athletic contest:
It was a truth normally left unspoken. And it certainly got people talking. Because fans and the press, deep inside, understand what the fight game is really about. We just can't admit it, even to ourselves, because of what it might say about us as people, about us as a culture.
What we are going to see on July 7th isn't just an athletic contest. It's a fist-fight between two of the most capable men in the world. This isn't a battle over a championship belt. It's a fight for pride, respect and supremacy.
These two men are going to be locked in a steel cage. They will try their best to hurt each other. Not just to win, but to hurt each other physically.
S: Sonnen, Chael P.
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
In 2010, Chael Sonnen pushed Anderson Silva like no one in the UFC had ever pushed him. Silva was beaten to the punch standing, taken to the mat repeatedly and punched in the face again and again.
No one had every seen the champion look so human, so beatable. That's why what happened next so special. Out of nowhere, with just minutes left in a 25 minute fight, Silva made Sonnen tap with a triangle choke.
Before Sonnen, Silva was like a fighting machine. There was no drama in an Anderson Silva fight. There was only Silva—and whichever poor sucker was unfortunate enough to be across from him.
Only his failure, his struggle and strife, only by appearing so vulnerable, could Silva finally capture the audience that had always viewed him from a distance. Only when he looked weak could we truly relate.
We saw what Anderson Silva was made of that night. He wasn't just a fighting god, he was a warrior, a fighter, someone who could struggle through and make it out the other side alive. He was a champion. And we loved him for it.
Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Before Anderson Silva began his middleweight title reign, Tito Ortiz had been the UFC's longest reigning champion. He won six title bouts in a row. Welterweight Matt Hughes later equaled the feat.
Silva is at ten. It's an unprecedented run of success, and it doesn't even include forays to light heavyweight or Travis Lutter's inability to make weight.
Fans will argue incessantly about who the best fighter of all time is. There are arguments to be made for Fedor Emelianenko, Matt Hughes, Georges St-Pierre and several others.
But you can't argue about who the UFC's greatest champion has been. It's Anderson Silva and it's not even close.
Henderson's awesome entrance to Lunatic Fringe was cut from the home video. Here it is.
There couldn't be two fighters more different than Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson. Silva is all style and grace, an athlete who seems to dance through the cage and through life without a care. He is as elegant as he is dangerous.
Dan Henderson can yank out his teeth and show you the gap where his chompers used to be. He's an American wrestler, grit personified, an athletic version of a Ford truck commercial. He started the sport as a member of the RAW team—Real American Wrestlers. The next elegant thing he does will be the first.
Their careers in Pride were just as disparate. Henderson succeeded for more than six years, winning most of his fights and giving opponents a hell of a scrap on the rare occasion he was on the losing end. Silva, as we've seen, washed out in embarrassing fashion.
With this history, it's no surprise that many thought Henderson would be the man to end the myth of Anderson Silva. He had returned to the UFC as the Pride champion in two weight classes. Unification bouts were scheduled at both light heavyweight and middleweight.
Though he lost to the light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson, it was a spirited fight, one of the best of the year. It was worth pondering how Silva could possibly beat Henderson if the top fighter 20 pounds heavier struggled so mightily with the former Olympian.
Those questions were answered, and in definitive fashion, at UFC 82. Henderson may have survived into the second round, even winning the first on some score cards, but he always seemed on the verge of making a mistake that would cost him dearly.
In the second round Henderson landed the punch that made him famous, a powerful right hand that had ended the night for many great fighters. Silva shrugged it off, landed one of his own, and followed with a knee and head kick that had Henderson reeling. And when Silva has you hurt, there is no escape. Few fighters smell a finish quite like he does—and when he pounces it's exceptionally rare for his prey to survive.
And so it went for Henderson. A last ditch takedown attempt failed. Silva landed on top of the wrestler and flipped the script with his own ground and pound. A choke soon followed and Henderson, again, made the walk of shame back to the locker room. In both unification bouts the UFC ended up on top.
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Ways Anderson Silva has finished his opponents:
Rear Naked Choke
If it is an appendage, he can beat you with it.
The elusive Mrs. Silva appeared in the documentary Like Water
There's a certain tolerance for spirited trash talk in combat sports. Discussing what you are going to do to your opponent is typically considered above the board. Making fun of his appearance or fighting style? Fair game.
But there are a few lines you just don't cross. Unless you are Chael Sonnen. Then you leap across the line without a care and never look back. Even family is open for discussion on planet Chael.
"You tell Anderson Silva that I'm coming over and I'm kicking down his backdoor and patting his little lady on the ass," Sonnen told Mauro Ranallo on The MMA Show. "And I'm telling her to make me a steak, medium-rare just how I like it."
No actual fight, but the backstory courtesy of Stephen Quadros
Xanthocomic is a pretty obscure word. It means yellow haired. Yeah, I know. You try coming up with an "X" word for this slideshow!
Yellow haired is a nice opening, however, to discuss the time Anderson beat up a blond fighter. Unfortunately, there isn't really a high profile blond on his resume.
Will Alex Stiebling do? Stiebling was proclaimed the "Brazilian Killa" after a couple of wins over jiu jitsu artists. Anderson Silva though, Anderson Silva wasn't having it. In less than two minutes, Silva proved he was one Brazilian who wasn't ready to die.
Stiebling thinks the nickname may have been a mistake. Like Sonnen would years later, Stiebling fired up a whole nation:
Yeah, I think people would say that a lot. For me, personally, I did it and I think the biggest thing is that it became more of a distraction than anything else. I don't regret what I did and I don't take it back. I'm not hanging my head in shame. I'm still 6-1 against Brazilians but what it became was a distraction for me. People can say whatever they want to say. I don't give a sh*t because I'm the one in the ring. Nobody else is.
Silva breaks down how he avoids strikes
At 37, Silva isn't getting any younger. A fighter who drops his hands and often relies on his lightning quick reflexes to protect him, Silva seemed ripe for a fall. Fighters with that style often decline quickly when their speed and quickness falter just a little.
I speculated Anderson might fade all the way back in 2010. Silva's opponents have had no such luck:
I worry about a fighter like Anderson Silva. He reminds me quite a bit of boxer Roy Jones. Both men rely on a physical edge, hyper speed reflexes and reaction time that makes it look like their opponents are moving in slow motion. At some point, that kind of fighter is bound to fall of a cliff. When it happens, it won't be pretty.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Anderson Silva has stepped into the UFC Octagon fourteen times. Fourteen times he's had his hand raised in victory.
It hasn't always been pretty. He's mixed some duds in with his transcendent performances. In Abu Dhabi, he made UFC President Dana White so angry that he stormed out of the arena before the event was over. That hadn't happened before and hasn't happened since.
I remember his puzzling fight in Chicago against Patrick Cote when Silva seemed content to dance rather than finish the overmatched Canadian. Again, White wasn't amused.
Those are high profile exceptions. For the most part, Silva's reign as the sport's top fighter has been filled with moments that make your draw drop, demand you process them momentarily before reacting with a scream or an amazed shake of your head.
When he finally retires the sport will be a sadder place. There will never be another fighter like him. Anderson Silva is a treasure. Appreciate him while you can.