Written by Trevor Lane
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is arguably the greatest pound for pound fighter in the world today. He has spent nearly three years dominating the UFC’s middleweight division, holding the title since Oct. 14, 2006. He holds a UFC-record nine straight victories, and is undefeated inside the octagon.
Despite his success, Silva has come under fire recently for his last two bouts. He looked disinterested against Patrick Cote, and then followed that up by failing to finish a vastly inferior Thales Leites over five rounds.
Even with the recent controversy, there is no question that "The Spider" is one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. His combination of skill, speed, and precision, both standing up and on the ground, has made him one of the most feared fighters in the world.
Like most fighters, Silva has had plenty of turning-point moments in his career, where one small change would make things very, very different today. Let’s take a look at one such moment as we ask what if...
What If Anderson Silva Had Lost To Travis Lutter?
After winning The Ultimate Fighter 4, Travis Lutter was granted a shot at Anderson Silva’s middleweight title at UFC 67. Silva was the heavy favorite after his dismantling of former champ Rich Franklin, but Lutter’s skills created an interesting problem for The Spider.
It’s been theorized that the one chink in Silva’s armor is his ground game. Understandably, most fighters opt to not stand toe to toe with him, and the thinking is that if Silva is taken down he can be overpowered or submitted.
Dan Henderson might disagree with that reasoning, but in any event it gives a strong submission specialist like Lutter a realistic, albeit slim, chance.
Unfortunately, Lutter was unable to make weight, which put the fight in jeopardy and drew the ire of UFC President Dana White. It was up to Silva to decide if he would still accept the fight, and as per the rules the title could not be on the line.
Silva decided to fight Lutter despite the weight issue, and the fight started out as most predicted, with Silva scoring points early.
Then the unthinkable happened. Lutter secured a takedown and eventually worked to a full mount on Silva. Lutter reigned down rights and lefts on a helpless Silva and it looked to be only a matter of time before the fight would be stopped.
Things fell apart from there though, as Lutter foolishly went for an arm bar and gave up the mount. Silva escaped and then went on to lock Lutter into a triangle. Lutter defended the triangle well, but Silva started delivering brutal elbows to Lutter’s head, forcing the submission.
To this day, the Travis Lutter fight is the closest Anderson Silva has come to losing in the UFC. So what would have happened had things gone just a little bit differently?
Let’s say that Travis Lutter begins cutting to 185 pounds a day or two earlier, and as such is able to make weight. That happening certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility and that would have led to the title to be at stake in the fight.
Then, if Lutter had stayed in the mount where he had Silva nearly defenseless and continued to rain down punches, it is highly likely that the referee would have stopped the fight and given Lutter the TKO victory.
With just two slight changes the best pound for pound fighter in the world today has not only lost to a lesser fighter in Travis Lutter, but lost his title as well. It would have been considered one of the greatest upsets in UFC history.
Yes, Silva would likely have gotten another title shot, just as George St. Pierre did when he was upset by the other TUF 4 winner, Matt Serra, but would Silva still be considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world today? Almost certainly not.
Perhaps more importantly, Silva’s mystique would be gone. Currently, he is viewed as nearly unbeatable. His opponents are so concerned with making a mistake and leaving an opening that they fight defensively and don’t take risks, with Thales Leites being an extreme example.
With a loss to Lutter, however, Silva’s opponents would have to feel a little more confident about their ability to squash The Spider, which can go a long way in a fight. Travis Lutter would have proven that Silva is mortal, and at that point anyone would feel that they have a fighting chance against him.
A simple twist of fate is all it takes…
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