Anderson Silva is the greatest mixed martial arts fighter of all time. He's surpassed not only his peers like Georges St-Pierre and Jon Jones, but also the classics of yesteryear.
Fedor Emelianenko has a case. So does Royce Gracie. But neither can match Silva. No one has ever done it better in the cage and Anderson has the records to prove it:
- 16-0 in the UFC Octagon.
- Unified Pride and UFC middleweight titles.
- Ten middleweight title defenses.
- Three successful excursions to light heavyweight.
What makes Silva's accomplishments even more spectacular is the way he goes about his business. Fighting is a brutal sport. In MMA, especially, brute force is too often the name of the game.
Silva is an exception.
He's elegant. To see him compete is to watch an artist at work; the mechanics of the human body his canvas. Silva moves like a dancer with gracefulness to behold, and dispatches his opponents with an ease that grants him the appearance of a man competing with boys.
Every Silva fight is a special treat. As he ages, they become even more special. Deep down, we know that this ride is coming to an end soon, but we're not ready to get off.
Of course, Chris Weidman can't afford to foster even a sliver of sentiment for the middleweight kingpin. Less than 10 fights into his career, and a virtual unknown to all but the most hardcore fan, he's been granted the gift of a lifetime.
Once the cage door shuts, fame and notoriety go right out the window. It becomes a competition of man against man, and Weidman is a fighter who appears built to beat Anderson Silva. He's Chael Sonnen, without Sonnen's propensity to fall right into a submission fighter's trap.
Sonnen 2.0, if you will.
Chael created the template for beating Silva. Weidman will look to follow it, fearlessly attacking, staying in The Spider's face and, above all else, grounding him whenever possible.
But it's easy to have a game plan right up until that first moment when you're face-to-face with the G.O.A.T. The key is how you respond after you get hit in the mouth for the first time. It's always easy until you get hit.
Can Weidman pull off the seemingly impossible? Can he be the first man to defeat Silva in the UFC?