Anderson Silva has been sitting at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings for quite some time, but don’t think his road to the top didn’t have a couple of bumps in it. Two of those bumps preceded his UFC 101 fight against Forrest Griffin.
Before facing Griffin at light heavyweight in the main event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Silva had delivered two lackluster title defenses at middleweight. After one of those bouts, Silva’s UFC 97 bout against Thales Leites, UFC president Dana White said (via Cage Potato), “I’ve never been embarrassed of a UFC fight like I was in the main event tonight.”
After Silva’s performance against Griffin, that embarrassment was pretty much forgotten.
Going into the bout, Griffin was eight months removed from losing the UFC light heavyweight title to Rashad Evans. He was described by UFC commentator Joe Rogan as “the perfect type of fighter to be facing Anderson Silva.”
He wasn’t. Griffin proved to be no match for a motivated Silva.
The first minute followed the pattern that we have become familiar with for a Silva fight. Silva used the opening moments of the bout to gauge the movement, timing and distance of Griffin. When his mind had made all the required calculations, Silva dropped Griffin with a right hand.
After allowing Griffin to regain his feet, Silva flipped whatever switch he has that pushes him to a level on which few fighters can operate. Silva was all feints and movement as he walked Griffin down, moving in for the kill.
Silva’s movements were almost like he knew where Griffin’s strikes were headed before Griffin even threw them. With 2:30 left in the first round, Silva’s hands were below his waist, as he showed no fear at all of Griffin.
Seconds later, Silva dropped Griffin with a left. Instead of swarming on Griffin, Silva allowed him to regain his feet, shaking hands with Griffin as he stood in front of him. By this time the seed had been firmly planted in Griffin’s head—he was not on Silva’s level.
That fact became perfectly clear when the final strike of the fight was thrown. Silva, stepping back, threw out what looked like a lazy, slapping right jab. When the punch found its mark, Griffin dropped to his back and waved his hands in the air in his own “no mas” moment.
It was quite a performance from Silva, one that had White singing a different tune after the event (via Fox News): “He’s unbelievable, he’s the most talented guy in the world, the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound, period.”
The win earned Silva “Fight of the Night” and “Knockout of the Night” bonuses.
Silva’s next fight will take place at the middleweight limit. On July 6, Silva will look to defend his title for the 11th time when he meets Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 162. Weidman will be the 17th opponent for Silva during his UFC career. Not one of those fighters has been able to secure a victory over Silva.