Seven years ago Anderson Silva lost a fight to Yushin Okami due to a disqualification for an illegal up-kick. Since then "The Spider" has rattled off 17 consecutive wins (14 in the UFC).
In every sport, we have the new crop of athletes compared to the greatest of all time. Although it's fair to debate it, I would believe the majority of fans consider Silva the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
How many fighters in the sport have dominated in the way Silva has?
The 37-year-old has defended his UFC middleweight title a record 10 times. Over half (18) of Silva's 33 career wins have come within the very first round. Over the last few years, Silva has been so confident that he has looked bored at times. In his most recent fight, he actually stood against the cage and let Stephan Bonnar hit him a few times—in the head.
If Anderson Silva hasn't earned the reputation as the greatest of all time, then I'm not sure who else you could give that title to as it stands today.
There's no question that the UFC's Jon Jones is somebody who continues to draw comparisons to Silva. Some think he could surpass Silva's title defense record and have a more impressive career when it's all said and done.
Jones is currently 25 years old and already has a professional MMA record of 17-1. Jones' last loss was similar to Silva's last defeat in the sense that it was due to disqualification when he nailed Matt Hamill with "12-6" elbows. Jones looked like he was well on his way to winning that fight without the elbows.
When Silva was 25, he had only three professional fights (2-1) and was still four years away from earning a belt within any promotion.
These type of comparisons are going to flank Jones for as long as he is successful. It is very reminiscent of how NBA fans remember Michael Jordan.
Is Anderson Silva the greatest MMA fighter of all time?
Jordan last played in 2003 as a member of the Washington Wizards. Toward the end of his career, fans would refer to any matchup he had with Kobe Bryant as a "passing of the torch." Here we are, a decade later, and I still believe most NBA fans and media believe Jordan is still the greatest of all time.
As soon as Bryant and his 'fro finished going up against Michael Jordan in the 1998 All-Star Game, he couldn't escape the conversation as to whether or not he was going to be the "next Jordan."
As Bryant's career has continued through the years, the comparisons to Jordan have never stopped. In the early stages of Bryant's career, people said he wasn't clutch, then they said he couldn't win without Shaquille O'Neal and now those same people proclaim Jordan is better because Kobe hasn't won that sixth ring (Jordan won six NBA championships).
The only other player in the NBA to face the same scrutiny in comparisons to Jordan is LeBron James. This all started when James had one of his high school basketball games televised on ESPN. From that point forward, people were saying he was going to be the next Jordan.
The James/Jordan talk had been relegated to a whisper prior to the 2011-12 season. Up until that point, James had failed to win a championship. As the championshipless years continued for James, so did the buzz surrounding his "Jordan-esque" career.
That's what it comes down to with MMA as well—winning. Silva is the Michael Jordan of MMA because he wins. You can have all the talent in the world, but if you rack up a great record and spectacular stats but fail to come through when it matters the most, you can never be considered the greatest of all time.
I'm certain we have yet to see the greatest fighter the sport will ever see. I do know, however, that Anderson Silva is the greatest of all time as I write this. Jon Jones and other elite fighters will have no choice but to hear their name compared to Silva for as long as they remain successful.
We don't know for sure how long Silva will continue to fight. I still believe he'll give us between 3-5 more bouts and call it a career at the age of 40. As great as he is today, one would think he would have to start slowing at some point.
After all, Michael Jordan did.
Joe Chacon is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and a staff writer for Operation Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JoeChacon.