Anderson Silva's career has already reached legendary status.
With a slew of UFC records, historical knockouts and sensational victories under his belt, "The Spider" has weaved a web of epic proportions.
Most mixed martial arts fans and enthusiasts see him as the greatest fighter of all time; one that not only carried a division on his back, but made it look like a walk in the park.
So, it's difficult to imagine that Silva's legacy would ever be called into question. But on the heels of one of the most devastating knockouts in the sport's history, compliments of current middleweight champion Chris Weidman's left hand, the Brazilian's image has been "tarnished."
That's why his upcoming rematch with Weidman on Dec. 28 at UFC 168 is so important. It's important not only to reclaim the belt, but to reclaim his status as the GOAT.
"This is very important for me," said Silva recently during an interview to promote his Los Angeles gym, originally reported by Dave Doyle of MMA Fighting. "For my family, my coach, for my legacy, this is very important."
People have ridiculed Silva for his past performance at UFC 162. They've called it lackadaisical and disrespectful to not only Weidman, but the sport itself. To leave your hands down and invite damage is a notion that any true champion should never entertain.
But to see Silva so focused and driven means Weidman is going to have to be that much more effective next weekend in Las Vegas.
"For 16 fights, Anderson was on the right end of the magic moment," said Silva's manager Ed Soares in the same report by Doyle. "In the last fight, Anderson was on the wrong end. Hat's off to Chris [Weidman] for pulling it off. But I don't know what we'll see and the fans don't, and that's why so many people are going to tune in."
Tune in they will. The rematch is already being called the biggest grudge match in UFC history, and that carries some weight around these parts.
In any case, Soares is right. The outcome of the first fight was so astonishing and unprecedented that not even the greatest of fortune tellers can predict Silva and Weidman's second clash for Octagon glory.
We'll just have to order the hiked-up pay-per-view card and hope UFC 168 caps off the best year of fights ever.
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