Strengths, Weaknesses, and How to Beat Anderson Silva
Anderson da Silva is the reigning defending UFC Middleweight Champion and the most dynamic striker of all time. Undefeated in the UFC and rarely even tested, Anderson just makes it look easy.
Whether he’s pulling off Matrix-like moves on Forrest Griffin, or coming back out of nowhere to win, Anderson keeps us entertained.
Most of us never had a chance to see Babe Ruth Swing a bat, or Muhammad Ali dance around the ring. What we do get to see is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all time fight in front of us every few months.
However, in this sport, no one is unbeatable. No one. So just what are Anderson’s strengths, weaknesses, and invulnerabilities? And how in the world do you squash “The Spider?”
Tale of the Tape
Significant Strikes Landed Per minute
Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute
Accuracy: Anderson Silva is the most accurate fighter in UFC history. When he reaches out to touch you, rarely does he miss. His timing is second to none and the fact that he’s a counter fighter doesn’t help his opponents out. He lays and waits for you to make the mistake of trying to hit him. Then he dodges it and hits you instead.
Aura: There have been fights where his opponents have literally looked scared to hit him. Nobody wants to end up on a highlight reel like Forrest Griffin did, swinging aimlessly at air as “The Spider” pawed him to sleep. Anderson will often drop his hands and dare his opponents to attack only to dodge out of harm’s way when they do finally grow impatient. His entire striking game is almost like a game of "hit me if you can."
Chin: Anderson is one of the few to have taken one of Dan Henderson’s devastating right hands and be able to remember it. If you do put those four ounce gloves on his chin, you have to make it count.
Strength: Anderson Silva is not a "powerhouse-built" guy, but he knows how to generate power in his strikes. Against strong wrestlers however, he’s not as great at stopping their takedowns. He’s been solid against BJJ-based grapplers in stopping their takedowns, but against top level wrestlers his success hasn’t been the same.
Reflexes: If you’re surprised that this is in the weaknesses section, you’re not the only one. I believe Anderson began his decline out of his prime after the Forrest Griffin fight. His head movement was impeccable and his strikes were pinpoint. Afterwards in fights against Yushin Okami and Chael Sonnen, the same punches he was dodging against Griffin were the same types he was eating in those two fights. He just can’t see strikes coming as fast as he used to. Where this becomes a problem is that he may not realize that, leading to him eating shots that he’d usually see coming.
There’s just nobody in MMA that strikes more beautifully than Anderson Silva. Opponents get caught watching as he dances around, bobbing his head in and out and dropping his hands in order to lure opponents in.
The reason he’s so confident? His skills. Not only is he a Muay Thai master, but he also holds a black belt in Tae Kwon Do as well being the man Freddie Roach has said is the best boxer in all of MMA.
The key to his striking lies in the first minute of the fight. You’ll rarely if ever see Anderson come out ready and willing to engage his opponent from the first bell. The first minute he sits back and gauges both distance and timing, pawing with a jab or throwing out a front kick. From there he’ll use his superior head movement to get within your range and dare his opponent to strike with him so that he can counter.
The danger comes when the crowd is booing his opponent is getting frustrated, and his hands drop with him swaying and changing stances. That’s when he has you exactly where he wants you, and exactly where you don’t want to be. Whether it’s his deadly hands, feet, elbows, or knees, he can take anybody out once they begin watching him dance.
Guard: Anderson has a very patient guard. Once taken down against strong grapplers the main thing he loves doing is tying up his opponent and completely stopping them from doing anything significant. This is most evident in the Dan Henderson Fight as well as Silva vs. Sonnen II.
Submissions: Anderson Silva has a legitimate black belt from the Nogueira Brothers. With six submission victories to his name, he’s no slouch when it comes to making guys tap out.
Of his six submissions he has two each by both rear naked and triangle choke. His final two submissions actually come due to punches. Most of his success is because he has an underrated guard and defense off of his back.
He’s submitted notable jiu-Jitsu black belt Travis Lutter as well as ground-and-pound specialists Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson.
When it comes to wrestling, there’s not much to see here. Anderson has attempted four take downs and completed three of them so, percentage-wise, he’s a 75 percent takedown guy.
What’s more impressive is his counter wrestling or takedown defense. He stuffs or scrambles away from 69.5 percent of his opponents’ takedown attempts. What he’s best at is reading an opponent’s takedowns and slickly getting out of the way.
Three Fighters Who Can Beat Anderson Silva
Chris Weidman: With three submission victories as well as three TKO victories, Chris Weidman can finish on the ground. Anderson is going to have trouble with his wrestling and finishing ability.
GSP: Georges St. Pierre is possibly the most well rounded fighter in MMA history. Good at everything, great at wrestling. Despite his recent deficiency in finishing fights, he neutralizes his opponents to the point of making them look unworthy of sharing the Octagon with him.
Rashad Evans: Rashad has solid knockout power and very fast hands. His wrestling could also give “The Spider” fits.
Father Time: Father Time has competed in all sports and is undefeated. Once an athlete leaves his prime, it’s but a matter of time before his skills begin to drastically diminish and they become a shell of the athlete they used to be. Despite his slow decline in skill, Anderson has still been the better man in the Octagon. However if he holds on too long like we know many athletes to do, Father Time can claim his victory.
How to Beat Anderson Silva
To defeat Anderson it’s going to take a pressure fighter who is content on bringing the fight to him.
Ideally it would be a wrestling-based fighter with a solid chin, good jiu-jitsu, and a powerful right hand.
After feeling out with a few jabs and kicks, Silva often strafes to his left which is towards the right hand of his opponents. Having an opponent who’s capable of closing distance early and taking advantage of this is key.
While on the feet understand that Anderson is a counter puncher. He wants you to get frustrated and swing wildly at him. Standing in front of him and being tentative will end in a highlight you do not want to be a part of. With that said it’s going to take an opponent who is both confident and decisive in what they want to do. Watching Silva and letting him get into a rhythm is a recipe for disaster. Coming out and looking to impose your will on “The Spider” is a recipe for success.
Look to neutralize Anderson on the ground then submit him. As Chael Sonnen has shown, punching him 300 times is not enough. Often Anderson will get mounted as he did against Sonnen. From there, looking for the arm triangle is the best move to use in order to win.