Anderson Silva is widely considered the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. His fans affectionately call him the G.O.A.T., short for "Greatest of All Time." What will become of his legacy after losing the UFC middleweight title to Chris Weidman at UFC 162?
For starters, his previous UFC record of 16-0 will now say 16-1. Other than that, he still has to be considered among the immortals in the pantheon of the sport. One can argue that his antics ruined his UFC unbeaten streak, but that shouldn’t tarnish all that he has accomplished in MMA.
He has lost four other times in his career, all outside of the UFC. Since defeating Rich Franklin for the middleweight strap at UFC 64, and leading up to last night, Silva has defended his belt 10 straight times and added 11 more post-fight bonuses. 14 out of his 16 victories in the UFC were finishes, a remarkable feat that will probably never be matched.
Silva came into his own in his UFC debut at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 5, when he disposed of Chris Leben in 49 seconds. Since then, the MMA world watched every one of his fights with baited breath to see what would happen next.
In three of his biggest fights early on, he finished Rich Franklin by TKO and submitted Dan Henderson. A couple of highlights after that included finishing James Irvin and Forrest Griffin, both outside his weight class at light heavyweight.
The discussion of Silva being the greatest ever really picked up steam after his come-from-behind triangle-choke victory over Chael Sonnen at UFC 117. After losing for the entire fight, he somehow found a way to win.
What could top that victory? How about a front-kick-to-the-face knockout over Vitor Belfort at UFC 126? Or a devastating knee to the chest and a TKO finish over Sonnen in their rematch at UFC 148?
Silva was a master of the uncanny. His unorthodox style and deadly accuracy proved too much for any of his opponents to handle, until Chris Weidman ended his streak at UFC 162.
Some of the greatest fighters of all time have lost. Fedor Emelianenko was considered unbeatable and hadn’t lost in 29 straight fights until Fabricio Werdum submitted him in 2010. George St-Pierre was a huge favorite when Matt Serra knocked him out at UFC 69. Some of the all-time greats in boxing, like Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, have suffered defeats.
You can dispute some of the level of Silva’s competition at times and if he really is the greatest to ever put on the gloves, but you can’t dispute what he has accomplished in the sport. His statistics don’t lie, and they will be there forever. They will stand the test of time and will be chased after by fighters of different generations to come.
The loss to Weidman shouldn’t tarnish his reputation of being one of the greatest and most exciting fighters the sport has ever seen. After all, if he wins in a rematch against Weidman, he may very well end the discussion on being the best ever.
Although, in the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Silva said he didn’t want a rematch.
"No, no, I have 10 more fights," he said. "But I don't fight anymore for the belt. I'm tired. I've fought for a long time. My plan for the belt is finished tonight. Chris is the new champion."
Whatever Silva decides to do—rematch or not—he will still go down as one of the greatest of all time. His legacy will remain—he just wasn’t unbeatable. What he was able to achieve during his reign as middleweight champion is almost untouchable.
Michael Stets is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report