After 10 successful title defenses, the longest undefeated winning streak in UFC history and countless other well-earned accolades, Anderson Silva has become more than a champion; he’s become the greatest fighter in MMA history.
Now, when fighters look at entering his division, they don’t think about the belt he has held since 2006, they think about him: the man that can’t be beat.
Of course, he can be beat, but it hasn’t happened in so long that it seems this version of “The Spider” is so complete that were he to go back in time and step in for the younger version of himself—the version who tasted defeat on four occasions—the result would be the utter destruction of those who bested him.
Make no mistake about it, when a fighter faces Anderson Silva, what they dream about isn’t “winning the title,” it’s defeating the man, and should they be able to do that, years after they retired, they would talk about the night they beat Anderson Silva, not about the night they won the title.
That’s not to say the title is worthless; far from it. It is to say that it has been around his waist so long that it has, as BJ Penn so aptly put it, become an accessory, second to the man who wears it.
Yet none of that stops the next man in line, nor should it. This is a fight sport, and every fighter who steps into the cage should want to be the best.
That has, in turn, led to Silva being called out by everyone under the sun. Some of them are quite deserving of their shot, while the rest lay claim to being next because of various other reasons, most of which revolve around the number of pay-per-view buys their name, when attached to Silva’s, could generate.
So let’s take a look at matchups that should happen, could happen and would have happened had the stars aligned, the good, the bad and the bizarre.