So much has been said about Anderson again and again. We all know what is at stake at UFC 162, and we continue to hear pundits and fans consider the endless possibilities right up to the opening bell. So instead of knocking readers over the head with more opinion, or trying to entice with "a new angle", let's simply sit back and appreciate some of the moments Anderson Silva has given us as fans.
Whether you love him, hate him, consider him No. 1 or No. 2 of all time, no matter how often he is the center of your arguments for or against, Anderson Silva has had some of MMA's most amazing moments. It is time to appreciate those moments as fans of the sport we all cherish. It is time to appreciate the accomplishments of a man who has made himself something more—a legend.
Fans who go way back to the Pride FC days can recall a time when Anderson Silva was just another fighter in the Pride fold. He did not even seem all that amazing, save for one eyebrow-raising moment that gave a peek into his ultimate potential: His flying-knee KO of Carlos Newton.
Newton was not the potent threat he once was, but he was still relevant. Newton had just come off a first-round submission win over Pete Spratt at UFC 40 and was poised to be a player in Pride FC's lighter division. He looked competent against Anderson for 6:25 of the first round. Then Silva made his mark emphatically.
"The Spider" not only landed the knee, he essentially vaulted Newton in the process. What was more impressive was that Anderson was on top his dazed opponent, landing strikes in less than a second after the initial blow.
Fans who saw it can recall it vividly as the moment they knew there was serious potential in the Brazilian striker.
While Ando fanboys may cringe, one of Anderson Silva's most unforgettable moments has to be his spectacular loss to Ryo Chonan at Pride Shockwave 2004. And just like eating your vegetables, it is best to get it out of the way now rather than save it for the end.
The maneuver still seems a tad unreal. Chonan likely had the win on the judges scorecards in the waning minutes of the match. Perhaps that is the perfect time to throw a flying-scissor takedown to reverse-heel-hook submission attempt. Whatever the reason for his decision, Chonan chose correctly and submitted Anderson Silva in what is among the most amazing submissions of all time.
Silva does not have to worry about the loss tarnishing his legacy in the UFC. Most Silva fans want to forget the moment (along with the embarrassing submission loss to Daiju Takase), but it happened and will always be brought up in any “Greatest Fighter of All Time” argument.
The silver lining in the loss is that it seemed only to propel Silva to strive to greater heights. He does not hold a legitimate loss on his record since that New Year's Eve show in 2004. Perhaps fans should consider accepting it as the catalyst for Anderson Silva's historic rise.
When Anderson made his way to the UFC, everybody knew he was a commodity. Nobody could have predicted just how prepared he was to jump into the Octagon.
Chris "The Crippler" Leben had been riding a six-fight win streak, and plenty of fans believed he would be a challenge to or even beat Silva. “The Spider” had other plans. He landed nearly 100 percent of his strikes and demolished a man many believed could not be put away without a sledgehammer and a stick of dynamite. Anderson proved that you only need ungodly precision, a knee to the dome and about 50 seconds.
For casual UFC fans who were unaware of the Brazilian Chute Boxe prodigy, the Leben fight became an instant awakening. Everyone was put on notice and it did not take long for Anderson to earn himself a title shot, thanks to what he accomplished in his first UFC.
While each fight probably deserves to be recognized separately, Anderson's two bouts with Rich Franklin will be placed together for a purpose. They coalesce to form a larger outcome for Silva. Anderson not only beat Franklin, he usurped his legacy and position as a middleweight great.
In both of their bouts, Anderson used quality striking to force Franklin to fight in close. Both times Anderson used his Chute Boxe skills and aggression to dismantle Franklin's body, soul and nose. It was brutal and almost difficult to watch as it was happening. It was also unforgettably ferocious and dominant.
The first fight saw Anderson take the belt. The second fight saw him take away any hope Franklin had in strapping it around his waist again.
It is one thing to beat a champion, it is another to wholly eclipse his legacy. Franklin, once poised to be the greatest middleweight champion in UFC history, is a mere footnote to casual fans as “that guy who held the belt before Silva". Even for hardcore fans, Franklin has become the Tito Jackson of middleweight champions. Loved, but not the best. Appreciated for what he did, but in the same manner someone congratulates the silver medalist at the Olympics.
There were some who felt that James Irvin stood a chance against Silva at UFC Fight Night 14. After all, he was supposedly bigger and did once land a flying knee that was similar to Silva's strike against Newton. One minute into their bout, that notion seemed as stupid as any other instance someone assumed Silva could lose.
The fight holds two now-familiar characteristics of an Anderson Silva fight. One, he did a feeling-out process until he felt comfortable that he knew how to beat his opponent. Two, he finished in brutal and epic fashion.
Everyone knew Silva could finish a fight with flair, but a caught-kick single punch knockout? If they made a betting line for the finish it would have held odds of a million-to-one. Now it is simply a fact etched in time, another notch to the legacy of an astounding champion.
In retrospect, it may seem weird anyone could think Irvin posed a threat to "The Spider". That proves just how good the moment was for Silva.
To think it now is madness, but there were some legitimate questions about Silva holding the extra weight, fighting a Muay Thai striker and whether he could handle the power of Irvin. Many did not appreciate just how well Anderson Silva could move to light heavyweight. His body type allows for him to carry 205 pounds well, and he likely surprised many when he came in looking as fast and as quick as ever.
Anderson Silva's trouncing of Forrest Griffin in his second move to light heavyweight at UFC 101 has to be one of the most iconic displays in the organization's history. It possesses two moments where Silva seemed like he had choreographed the fight as an homage to Muhammad Ali. First, he slipped, ducked and dodge strikes much like Ali did. Second, during the finish, "The Spider" stood over Griffin much the way Ali did to Sonny Liston after knocking him out.
Anderson not only beat Griffin, he embarrassed the former champion thoroughly. Silva kept his hands down throughout much of the fight. He yelled at Griffin to come forward, to which Griffin shrugged in frustration, not knowing what to do next. Silva almost looked unhappy or bored in the fight. It was as if he expected more than what he was given from Griffin.
In the end, Silva knocked Forrest out with a retreating straight, and did not even follow up with a finishing blow. Griffin laid sprawled, as defeated mentally as he was physically.
Forrest Griffin was a former light heavyweight champion, coming fresh off a loss to Rashad Evans. He is a gamer, but the move was the worst decision in his fighting career. Running out of the ring after the loss wasn't too smart either.
Silva took one step further in making his legacy unreachable for all in his weight class when he locked his triangle choke on Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. It is probably the greatest last-ditch submission win ever.
Prior to the submission Anderson was being downright bullied for four-and-a-half rounds. Sonnen was taking the champ down at will. He was keeping pace in the striking department as well. It all seemed like a glorious underdog victory was imminent for the Oregonian until 3:10 into the final round. Chael, too exhausted and simply undisciplined, left himself open for a choke. Anderson snatched the opportunity, and it will forever be a moment remembered in his storied career.
The win was not impressive merely because Silva pulled it out. The win is a hallmark of why it is so important to never give up in a fight. Almost any other man would be broken from being outstruck by a wrestler. Many would have lost hope after constantly being taken down at will. Almost anyone would mentally give in after hundreds of punches (no matter how lacking in power) struck his face. No one would have blamed Silva for not being able to finish the submission. No one would have said he was less of a man or a champion. But Anderson Silva never gave up, and that is why we will always remember the moment.
The knee was great, the Thai clinch divine, the triangle clutch superb, but the front kick to put away Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 is Anderson Silva's greatest career moment.
Belfort was considered Anderson Silva's most dangerous adversity to date. Fans and pundits alike believed “The Phenom” would be able to use his blitzing power to put real pressure on Silva, and possibly squash "The Spider" once and for all.
Vitor did try to pressure Silva. When that didn't work, he started to measure the champion up, looking for attack points. Anderson took the opportunity to land a kick that added a new move to every MMA strikers' repertoire in the process. When the kick landed, Belfort melted where he stood. Cool as you'd like, Silva walked over, stood above Belfort, threw a couple of strikes and then walked away champion once again.
Anderson's career has been filled with great moments. The kick to Vitor is career-defining beyond all others. It rewrote the stand-up game, it proved he had no equal in striking at his weight and it showed that even those who posed a real threat to him had very little to offer. That fight had anyone holding even the smallest shred of doubt finally throwing up their hands and stating, "Fine! He's the best ever."
Whether or not Silva will be victorious at UFC 162 is irrelevant to what we have recognized here. The Brazilian has forever cemented his legacy as one of the greatest ever to participate in the sport. It is possible we will never see another fighter like him.
- Defeating Dan Henderson
- Taking Yushin Okami's soul before he even entered the Octagon
- Running knee to Chael Sonnen's sternum in the rematch
- Putting himself against the cage against Stephan Bonnar