5 Reasons Anderson Silva Is Better Than Every Other MMA Fighter
Experts certainly knew of a few of the gifts Anderson Silva could bring to the table when he made his move from British promotion Cage Rage to the UFC in 2006.
No one, however, envisioned Silva unleashing a seven-year reign of terror on the UFC's middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, all of which began with a swift and vicious knockout of the surging Chris Leben at Ultimate Fight Night 5.
Of the 15 opponents Silva thrashed following the Leben fight, only elite wrestlers Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen managed to reveal any chinks in the Brazilian's armor.
In three fights, Henderson and Sonnen grounded "The Spider" a combined five times. "Hendo" controlled Silva and won round one of their middleweight title bout at UFC 82, and Sonnen did much of the same for almost five rounds at UFC 117. "The American Gangster" also floored and controlled Silva in the first round at UFC 148.
But Silva, in typical Silva fashion, weathered each storm and finished all three of those bouts, choking Henderson, and stopping Sonnen twice, once via triangle armbar and again via TKO.
He's stood atop the mountain in MMA since ripping the belt from Rich Franklin at UFC 64. Here are five reasons Silva is better than every other MMA fighter.
A Rock-Solid Chin
Silva showed why, with relative ease, he avoided being KO'd in 37 pro fights when he demoralized Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153.
Using an unorthodox defensive stance, Silva effectively made Bonnar look like a pre-pubescent boy fighting a full-grown man when he walked his back against the cage, dropped his hands and allowed "The American Psycho" to unleash a cluster of combinations at his head.
Using extraordinary instinct, The Spider perpetually rolled his hips and his head to avoid the bulk of Bonnar's flurries. The few punches that did connect only seemed to excite and motivate the venomous Silva.
With just 20 seconds left in the round, Silva finished his mockery of Bonnar by slamming a ferocious fight-ending knee into The American Psycho's breadbasket.
In less than five minutes with Bonnar, Silva illustrated the significance of possessing a rock-solid jawline and a diverse striking repertoire in MMA.
The Most Accurate Strikes in the Sport
Silva probably doesn’t possess the heaviest punching power in the division, but what he lacks in power, he exponentially makes up for in accuracy.
Silva, who sports a 77.6-inch reach, liberally launches punches, elbows, knees and kicks with bad intentions from all angles, all of which seem to land with pinpoint accuracy.
In his 10 consecutive middleweight title defenses, The Spider has used his notoriously lethal striking prowess to either TKO or KO six of his victims.
With 20 impressive knockouts to his name, Silva has exemplified for years that the best strikers aren’t the meanest and strongest guys, but rather the smartest and most accurate.
Twenty years ago, when the UFC was founded, intellect didn’t play such an integral role in the outcome of a mixed martial artist’s career.
In those days, guys like Royce Gracie, who possessed top-notch Brazilian jiu-jitsu chops, and Ken Shamrock, a dynamic athlete, dominated the sport.
But fighters and trainers have radically evolved since the heydays of fighters like Gracie and Shamrock. Nowadays, the most cerebral and tactical fighters, like Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones, top the pound-for-pound rankings.
Akin to St-Pierre and Jones, Silva always keeps his cool and always relies on his training. Perhaps that's why he's able to nail unheard of techniques on upper-echelon fighters on a regular basis.
Heart and the Ability to Improvise
It took precise timing and a remarkable display of heart to pull off, but Silva slapped on the Hail-Mary triangle armbar that stopped an extremely determined Sonnen at UFC 117 and preserved his pristine legacy within the company.
The last-ditch maneuver was one of many instances in which Silva brilliantly improvised in the heat of battle to prevail.
In another stiff challenge at UFC 82, a hesitant Silva failed to open up and enact his game plan in the opening round against a charged up Henderson.
To Henderson’s disbelief, however, Silva shifted from first gear to fifth in the second round, a tactic that helped The Spider brutalize and ultimately choke the former Olympic wrestler.
Confidence oozes from most fighters, but rarely is the sentiment genuine like in the cases of legends like Fedor Emelianenko and Silva.
Always focused and rarely rattled, Silva uses his self-assurance to make the most noteworthy bouts seem trivial.
In the months leading up to his rematch with Sonnen, Silva calmly sat and listened to the loud-mouthed "American Gangster" insult his family, his fighting style and his country, quietly stowing away each remark and later using the embarrassing interactions to fuel his fire.
As fight-day approached, however, Silva felt comfortable unleashing verbal tirades towards Sonnen, knowing in the near future he could back his words up in the Octagon.
At UFC 148, Silva followed through with his violent promises to Sonnen with a TKO win, silencing all the critics that claimed he couldn't stop a top-flight takedown artist.