Should he prove successful (and nearly everyone believes he will), he will, once again, set the record for UFC title defenses at 11, no small feat in a sport with so many ways to lose.
Silva is quite simply the greatest MMA fighter to ever live—a combination of incredible talent mixed with the highest level of skill, all honed to a razor’s edge by dedication, desire and hard training.
But is he the greatest fighter ever?
If we really want to be honest, we must examine Silva compared to his peers not only in MMA but boxing as well, simply because the sweet science represents nearly half of the realm where Silva shines brightest.
So, how do we make such comparisons?
Well, first we must make note of the accomplishments of said fighters, especially at the championship level.
Secondly, we have to look at their level of competition and how they fared against fighters of significant note.
Lastly, we look at the raw talent and skill of these fighters when they were (are) at their best, not only because such talent makes them the candles that burn twice as bright but also because some of the men in this discussion are still fighting and thus their futures are subject to prognostication, largely based upon their talent.
For the sake of simplicity, I’ve chosen 10 fighters of considerable repute in pound-for-pound discussions, past and present—six from boxing and four from the world of MMA.
It is important to also note the men who are not included in this list, such as Wilfredo Gomez, who at his prime had a true undefeated record, stopping each and every one of his opponents by KO or TKO—clearly the mark of a pound-for-pound great. All of that came to an end when he was ripped to pieces by the young Salvador Sanchez, but he was still an excellent fighter in his time.
He, and many others in the world of boxing and MMA, didn’t make this list of comparison because it just didn’t need that many samples.
When ranking men of such greatness, it becomes very hard to quantify the unseen and the unknown, mainly in the realm of how MMA compares to boxing, but there are enough similarities in both sports to proceed, albeit with some caution…