Anderson Silva is, without doubt, the closest thing that MMA has to a complete package. He is skills, training, experience and unfaltering confidence all lumped into one lethal package. Those primary assets drive the highlight-reel knockouts he delivers time and again.
But you probably already knew that—you've probably seen his backlog of fight-ending tricks on more than one occasion.
What's more interesting, perhaps, are the mind games tucked in between the formal introductions and the brutal finishes. Rare and fleeting, these demonstrations of superiority allow Silva to cripple his opponents psychologically—the shock waves then travel throughout the middleweight division and cast doubt in many future contenders' minds.
He's gained a certain infamy for toying with his opponents mid-bout. Juking, jiving, dancing and even voluntarily placing himself into vulnerable positions are all fair play.
At UFC 162, Chris Weidman will need to maintain the same confidence he's displayed in the buildup to his showdown against the middleweight champion. He's vowed to not be yet another victim of Silva's manipulations.
Whether or not he succeeds remains to be determined.
In the meantime, sit back, relax and take a look at some of Silva's most memorable psych-out moments.
When: June 23, 2002, at Pride 21
How he ended it: First-round TKO (doctor stoppage)
For the ordinary fighter, walking into a packed arena with the beaming focus of a dozen live cameras can be utterly gut wrenching. Stress, anxiety and unbearable pressure might set in just prior to the impending cage fight.
But for Anderson Silva, it's time to dance—literally.
At Pride 21, Silva approached the ring as a Michael Jackson impersonator—he had the outfit and dance moves nailed. The crowd cheered as even Silva's corner men struggled to contain their laughter.
Imagine the thoughts going through opponent Alex Stiebling's mind at that very instant. Was it an innocent joke? Or perhaps it was a ruse to portray Silva as a trivial opponent?
Ultimately, it became a shining example of Silva's unique approach to the entire business of fighting—not to mention one of the most memorable walk-out entrances in MMA history.
When: Oct. 20, 2007, at UFC 77
How he ended it: Second-round TKO via knee strikes
A year after Anderson Silva walked through then-middleweight champion Rich Franklin, both men met again for a much-awaited rematch. Franklin, known for his dedication and rigorous training practices, was said to have refined and resolved every crack that Silva had exposed a year prior.
A minute into the fight, it appeared as though his efforts were coming to fruition—Silva wasn't finding weak points as easily as he had in their first outing.
But sure enough, Silva eventually landed some crucial knees from inside his notorious Muay Thai Plum.
The psych-out moment of this fight occurred when "The Spider" decide to show a complete disregard for Franklin's stand-up by approaching the center of the Octagon, planting both of his feet and offering the former champ a prime opportunity to knock him out.
Franklin unloaded with a series of punches and one high kick. Much to his dismay, not a single strike landed. Silva simply swiveled at the hips and slipped past everything thrown in his direction.
It was all downhill from there.
Silva would eventually drop Franklin at the sound of the first-round buzzer, only to finish him with knee strikes in the second round.
When: July 7, 2012, at UFC 148
How he ended it: Second-round TKO via knee to the body and punches
If Anderson Silva is the hero in our story, then Chael Sonnen would certainly be the villain.
In arguably the most anticipated rematch in MMA history, Sonnen vowed to finish what he had once started. Millions of MMA fans eagerly awaited the opportunity to see if Sonnen could dominate the indomitable Silva for another five rounds—preferably without getting submitted in his second attempt.
Unfortunately, he didn't get a chance to go that far.
The climax of the fight came when Silva backed toward the fence and goaded Sonnen to strike. As the champion had hoped, the aggressor took the bait—Sonnen blitzed forward with a poorly executed spinning backfist.
Silva brilliantly ducked under the strike and, as some top-down camera angles revealed, possibly even managed to extend his leg in a conscious effort to trip Sonnen mid-spin.
It all worked out in Silva's favor.
Sonnen came crashing toward the canvas and, like a wounded animal, scooted submissively toward the fence. Silva ended it with a single, crippling knee to the chest and some perfunctory strikes to boot.
When: April 10, 2010, at UFC 112
How he ended it: Unanimous decision
Quite honestly, UFC 112 ought to be regarded as the embarrassing nadir of Anderson Silva's title run. When the decision was rendered, fans were left with the harsh reality of what had just happened—Silva ran around aimlessly in an active effort to avoid fighting his opponent, Demian Maia.
That may have been the downside to the whole affair, though it wasn't all terrible.
In hindsight, we're left with several entertaining psych-out moments delivered by a champion who just happened to be in a mood to do something other than respectably defend his title.
Midway through the fight, Silva opted to prioritize showboating over dealing damage. Relentless in his taunting, the champion pounded on the mat in protest—he seemed to be goading Maia, a world-class grappler, into brute-force takedown attempts.
Before it all came to a close, Silva showed complete disregard for Maia's striking by bowing to one knee and leaning his head forward in defiance.
The fight was a debacle, to say the very least. But it also demonstrated the lengths to which Silva will go when he decides to make such grandiose demonstrations.
When: October 13, 2012, at UFC 153
How he ended it: First-round TKO via knee to the body and punches
Though the betting odds were tipped heavily in Anderson Silva's favor, pundits gave his UFC 153 opponent, Stephan Bonnar, a chance to win if he could overpower the champion via dirty boxing against the cage.
Apparently, Silva got word of the news and decided to make a show of it.
After some fairly straight-forward clinch exchanges to start the fight, Silva saw an opportunity to duck out of a side pocket as soon as Bonnar stepped back to open some distance. Instead, Silva gracefully backed himself into the fence and, to the audible dismay in his corner, stood there awaiting Bonnar's next move.
Bonnar attempted to capitalize on the opportunity with everything he could muster—he threw several combinations that Silva slipped past, along with a turning side kick that Silva easily side-stepped. Moments later, a return volley came in the form of a fight-ending knee to the solar plexus.
Immobilized by the pain, Bonnar collapsed to the canvas as the Brazilian swarmed over him. Were it not for Silva's display against Bonnar's partner in crime three years earlier, these psych-out moments from UFC 153 might have been the best of them all.
When: Aug. 8, 2009, at UFC 101
How he ended it: First-round KO via punch
In Anderson Silva's second outing at light heavyweight, fans witnessed a demonstration of Silva's superiority against a far more formulaic and mechanical striker.
Much like he had in the contests prior, Silva began with a minute-long feeling-out period of Forrest Griffin's striking speed and general cage mannerisms. He moved around the Octagon in a calculated effort to assess what Griffin had to offer.
Apparently he was unimpressed.
The intensity slowly built over the course of several minutes—Silva kept his hands low and willingly ate Griffin's jabs. He even planted his feet a la the Rich Franklin fight and dodged a full punch combination, shortly before throwing a single, knockdown straight punch of his own.
Griffin's confidence was breaking in real time.
It all came to a halt when he charged forward with a barrage of straight punches. Silva, with hands at his waist, stepped back within a few inches of each strike. With flawless timing, he threw an anchor punch to capitalize on his opponent's momentum.
A discouraged Griffin was laid out on the canvas with an expression of utter confusion and helplessness on his face. He sealed the deal on a fight that amounted to a single, extended build-up and climax of Silva's ability to get inside of his opponent's head.