UFC 153: Which Fighter Has the Most to Lose?

Craig AmosFeatured ColumnistOctober 12, 2012

Jul. 7, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; UFC fighter Anderson Silva celebrates after defeating Chael Sonnen during a middleweight bout in UFC 148 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Losing is never the most healthy thing for an MMA career, but not all losses are created equal and very few losses are as devastating as the one Anderson Silva could potentially suffer at UFC 153.

Yes, he'll probably win. But bear with me for a moment.

Silva's reputation—his legacy—is built on a foundation of excellence, dominance and indeed, perfection. He isn't such an awe-inspiring figure because he wins fights, it's how he wins them. It's one thing to beat Vitor Belfort and quite another to knock him out with a front-kick to the face.

Silva's string of ungodly UFC performances has made him into a deity of sorts and rarely in mythology does one of divine stature receive a threat from a mere mortal. And no one is going to mistake Stephan Bonnar for a legend, or hero or anything, but flesh and blood.

Certainly, Bonnar has proven himself a warrior over the years, fighting his heart out in defeat as often as victory, but there's no real awe about him—he's just a tough guy. As ordinarily talented as middle-rung UFC fighters get.

There in lies the problem for Silva. When someone of his stature falls, they fall hard. And if they fall at the behest of someone barely approaching the base of their own personal mountain, they fall really hard.

That is why a loss is devastating to Silva here. He'll still be remembered as an amazing fighter. He'll probably even retain his reputation as the best fighter to have ever graced the Octagon, but a loss to Stephan Bonnar erases the perfection he's maintained over his UFC tenure.

And considering what Bonnar's role as a UFC fighter represents, that rarest of distinctions would dissipate very unashamedly.


And beyond the emergence of an unjustifiable speck on Silva's person, the absence of perfection invites questions.

Now that he is a man again, no longer combative perfection personified, was he ever really so different from the rest?

Maybe he's not the greatest of all time? Maybe he's not the best right now? Is he over the hill? Are Michael Bisping, or Chris Weidman or Alan Belcher going to expose him?

If Stephan Bonnar could kill the legend, how real could it ever have been?

No, a loss to Bonnar does not erase what Silva has done, but it does stop what he is doing—and that is building a UFC resume that eliminates room for debate, building a legend never rivaled and cementing his legacy as the embodiment of perfection as a UFC champion.

With a loss, Silva still retains his elite status, middleweight title and probably even his moniker as the greatest of all time. And those are meaningful accolades. 

But still, ending up there, with the other pillars of the sport, is not something you aspire to when you've flown high above them for years.

And that's where a loss at UFC 153 puts Silva—with the best, sure, but with others all the same.