Not even world-renowned NBA stars Kobe Bryant and LeBron James come close to exhibiting the same amount of star power as Anderson Silva does in Brazil.
For Silva's manager Ed Soares, it all started with the Vitor Belfort fight.
Silva had reigned over the UFC middleweight division well before his spectacular knockout victory over Belfort, but it was something about that particular fight that stirred an entire nation.
Brazil had its new superstar athlete.
"[Anderson Silva] is bigger than Kobe Bryant and LeBron James [in Brazil]. He's bigger than that there. It's crazy. Every time I go there, when it seems it can't get any bigger, he somehow seems to get even bigger," Soares said during a phone interview with Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour."
"I've heard in a lot of talks, I was in Sao Paulo yesterday meeting with one of our partners down there with an agency, and they were telling me that Anderson right now, behind [soccer player] Neymar, is the second most popular athlete in Brazil. It all really started to get bigger right after the Vitor Belfort fight. That's when it all started."
MMA fans are in the midst of an era reminiscent of ones that spawned athletic greats like Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali. Generations from now, people will still be talking about Anderson Silva.
While most professional athletes see their careers dwindle by their mid-thirties, Silva seems to be in his prime at age 37. He hopes to remain healthy enough to fight another five years.
With everything he's already accomplished, the best could be yet to come for Silva.
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