Anderson Silva retained his Middleweight Championship with a second round TKO over Chael Sonnen at UFC 148. Now that Silva has put away his most fierce rival, one thing is clear—he is the greatest of all-time.
Many may argue that he already held that distinction, and it is a legitimate argument. However, following UFC 117, there were still some doubts after he was dominated for the vast majority of the bout.
Redemption in UFC 148 put those thoughts to rest.
What makes someone the greatest of all-time?
Supreme talent, championships and the ability to clearly outclass one's opponents all go in to answering that question. And then there are the intangibles. Things you can put your finger on, but you know it when you see it.
Following the shocking loss to Ryo Chonan, by a flying scissor heel hook, Silva became a new, dominant fighter. Technically, he does have one more loss on his record after that—the DQ loss vs. Yushin Okami in 2006.
He began his trek up the ladder with a TKO over Jorge Rivera in Cage Rage, and after two more wins, including the highlight elbow KO over Tony Fryklund, he got the call to join the UFC.
His UFC career has been nothing short of awe inspiring.
Crushing Chris Leben in under a minute, winning the Middleweight Championship in his next outing by re-aligning Rich Franklin's nose, crushing Nate Marquardt, submitting Dan Henderson, and the list goes on.
It is not that he beat those men, but rather the dominant fashion that made fans' jaws drop.
Even in his less than stellar performances against Patrick Cote, Thales Leites and Demian Maia he was never in danger. He was always in control, and always the dominant fighter.
He even moved to 205 and made top ten contender Forrest Griffin look like he had no business being considered a top fighter, dropping him three times in a little over three minutes of action in what was one of the most embarrassing knockouts in UFC history.
And of course, we move to recent times with his marvelous front kick KO of Vitor Belfort.
What he does in the cage is phenomenal.
The detractors who say his level of competition has not been that high are looking at it from present day. But when Anderson fought Franklin, both times he was at the top of the middleweight rankings universally. Griffin was top ten at light heavyweight if not top five, and Marquardt was the top contender.
The fights clearly showed Anderson is in another class above them, but that does not take away from the fact the men he beat were world-class.
Who else can lay claim to being the greatest ever?
Surely not BJ Penn, Matt Hughes, Chuck Liddell, Randy Couture or Tito Ortiz. All made contributions to the sport and were dominant at times, but nothing like Silva.
Fedor? While he was unquestionably the best heavyweight at one moment in time, he never faced the elite on a consistent basis. And then he got flattened by Antonio Silva and knocked out by Henderson.
If there is one fighter who can lay claim to that greatest fighter spot other than Anderson, it is Henderson.
Henderson was PRIDE champion in two divisions—simultaneously. That is astounding.
To add on to those credentials—Henderson was a UFC tournament champion, a Strikeforce champion, and a continual top contender in both the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions in the UFC.
He has defeated Shogun Rua, Fedor, Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Belfort and many more top fighters. He has been remarkable in two different weight classes in three major organizations.
But, he got worked by Anderson Silva.
Being the greatest is more than who you have beaten or your win-loss record, although those do play a significant role.
When you watch Silva you are watching greatness. Silva will be the Ali of our generation. The fighter we load up video tapes of for our children. He is special.
You know it when you see it. We have all been witnesses to his greatness. No one is his equal.
We know he is the greatest fighter of all-time.