Silva vs. Sonnen 2: Silva's TKO Victory Proves He Is Still Growing as a Fighter

Austin GreenCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2012

PHILADELPHIA - AUGUST 08:  Anderson Silva celebrates after defeating Forrest Griffin during their light heavyweight bout at UFC 101: Declaration at the Wachovia Center on August 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Anderson Silva is still progressing as a fighter, and that may be the scariest thing I've ever written.

After all, Silva is already the undisputed greatest mixed martial artist of all time. With his second-round TKO of Chael Sonnen at UFC 148, he improved to 15-0 in the UFC (32-4 total) and extended his record of most consecutive successful title defenses to 10.

As if that wasn't enough, he also convincingly defeated his only career rival, and proved that he is still evolving in the process.

At 37 years of age, Silva is defying the basic laws of physics. Wine is supposed to get better as it ages. World-class athletes are not.

And yet, despite being just two years away from the current definition of "middle age," Silva is deadlier than ever.

It's expected to see fighters' athleticism deteriorate as they reach their late 30s, but Silva has shown no signs of slowing down. His strikes are still lightning-quick, his power is still devastating and his elusiveness is still unparalleled.

Silva has always been an incredible athlete, but the fact that he is the same athlete today that he was a few years ago is fascinating.

Where he has really grown—and will continue to grow—is in the mental aspects of fighting. Silva's ability to take punishment in the first Sonnen bout was amazing, but his adjustments for the rematch were even more so.

Like the first fight between the two, Silva spent most of Saturday's first round on his back. But rather than wrap his arms around Sonnen's neck like the first fight, Silva wrapped them around his chest and shoulders.

This limited Sonnen's movement, specifically his ability to punish Silva's body, which in turn would open up Silva's face. It also denied Sonnen the opportunity to land brutal punches to the head, as he was pressed chest-to-chest against Silva.

This robbed him of his power and reduced the size of his target, as Sonnen's own upper body was often shielding Silva's face. At one point, a frustrated Sonnen even tried smacking Silva with his chest, but unsurprisingly, it did no damage.

Of course, this adjustment on the ground might not have mattered had Sonnen not slipped in the second round, allowing Silva to pounce.

But what it did do was prove that Silva is still learning—still growing—and with his athleticism remaining at an elite level, this is terrible news for the rest of the UFC.