With every major sport there's a name that comes to mind. When you think basketball, everyone knows Michael Jordan. For baseball, it's Babe Ruth. For hockey, it's Wayne Gretzky.
There are certain names that come associated with greatness. With the UFC machine behind him, Anderson Silva will be the name associated with mixed martial arts.
When it comes to the greatest of all time debate, Anderson is one of two names that comes to mind. However when it comes to the greatest middleweight of all time, it's not even close.
Anderson is the most decorated MMA fighter ever. His achievements in the ring are incredible. Here's a list of just some of those accomplishments.
Most all-time knockdowns in UFC history: 15
Longest winning streak in UFC History: 16
Most championship victories: 11
Most post fight bonus awards: 12
Most finishes in UFC title fights: nine
Most finishes in UFC history: 14
Longest UFC title reign: over 2,250 days and counting
Fight of the Night winner: three times
Submission of the Night winner: two times
Knockout of the Night winner: seven times
Anderson has a healthy 33 wins and four losses on his record.
Of his 33 wins, 20 of them have come by way of TKO. Six have come by way of submission which equates to a 79 percent finishing rate.
Here are some of Anderson's notable victories.
Hayato Sakurai: (36-12-2) Overall, (0-1) UFC, (8-3) PRIDE
Before being defeated by Silva in Anderson's eighth Oro MMA match, Sakurai was undefeated at 18-0-2.
At the time, Sakurai would've been considered a top pound-for-pound guy and maybe even unbeatable talent. The Japanese phenom would go on to defeat Shinya Aoki twice and also defeated UFC competitors Mac Danzig and Jens Pulver.
Jeremy Horn: (89-21-5) Overall, (6-7) UFC, (2-0) PRIDE.
Before being caught in the Spider's web, Jeremy Horn had already fought in 87 career fights and had 70 victories. Some notable names on Horn's victim list include Chael Sonnen, Chuck Liddell, Gilbert Yvel and Shinya Aoki.
Dan Henderson: (29-8) Overall, (6-2) UFC, (13-5) PRIDE
Dan Henderson is simply one of the greatest fighters of all time. Taking on all comers and always entertaining, Old Ugly, as Dana White calls him, was at the top of his game while facing The Spider.
Reigning PRIDE Champion at both middleweight and welterweight, Hendo was a force in the MMA world. Silva quickly dispatched him in the second round, becoming the true middleweight champ.
Rich Franklin: (29-7-1) Overall, (13-6) UFC
Ace was simply one of the best at the time Silva took him down. At the time of facing Silva, Ace was 22-1 and a dominant UFC champion after winning his first six UFC matches. Some notable fighters on his hit list are Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell and Ken Shamrock.
Chris Leben: (22-8) Overall, (12-7) UFC
People forget just how good Chris Leben was. Sporting a 15-1 record at the time and running off six straight UFC victories, Leben was chosen to welcome The Spider to the UFC. It was then that Leben suffered a 49-second destruction, and the legend of Anderson Silva as we know him was born.
Forrest Griffin: (19-7) Overall, (10-5) UFC
Forrest Griffin was at the height of his popularity in the UFC and had just lost his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship when he faced Silva.
At 16-5 before facing Silva and winning three of his last four fights, Griffin was a top-five light heavyweight at the time he faced the Middleweight King. Notable wins on his resume include Tito Ortiz, Rich Franklin, Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua.
Vitor Belfort: (21-9) Overall, (10-5) UFC, (5-3) PRIDE
Known as The Phenom and currently the No. 3 middleweight in the UFC according to some, Vitor Belfort was supposed to have the stand-up to defeat Silva. However, he became yet another victim. Vitor's list of victims include Gilbert Yvel, Randy Couture and Rich Franklin.
Overall in terms of relevant competition, Silva has defeated 23 fighters with UFC experience. Their combined UFC record is 121-86, which equates to a 58.4-percent UFC winning percentage.
He's also defeated eight fighters who have competed in PRIDE. Their combined record is 40-24, which is a 58.4 winning percentage.
Anderson Silva fights the right way.
In an MMA world where game plans and working to exploit the opponent's weaknesses is prevalent, Anderson does the opposite. He looks to impose his striking on every opponent. Even if he's fighting another great stand up fighter, you won't see Anderson going for a takedown to finish rounds. You'll see him looking to show who the better stand up guy is.
That's what fighting is supposed to be. Go to a fight with your best foot forward and look to finish. If a guy is better at doing what he does than you are at what you do, then so be it. With that attitude, Anderson has only lost four times out of 37. And other than his "Dancing with the Stars" performance in Abu Dhabi against Demian Maia, rarely are we ever upset with or disappointed with buying an Anderson Silva fight.
Against Stefan Bonnar there was a sequence when Anderson stood with his back against the cage, dodged a spinning back kick, then planted himself back against the cage while telling his corner "I got this."
It's moments like that you never get from watching other guys fight. And it may never be duplicated again.
When we look back 20 years from now, we'll all speak of the greatness that is Anderson Silva.
We'll talk about how he dodged Forrest Griffin's punches like he was in the Matrix, how he introduced champion Rich Franklin to the Thai Clench, and how he intelligently set up the front kick that knocked Vitor Belfort out.
We'll talk about how every fight became must see TV because it was almost a given that you would be seeing something that had never been done before.
So no matter what happens for the rest of his storied career, he'll be known as the most dominant champion in UFC history and simply the greatest middleweight of all time. And he'll deserve nothing less.