When Silva made his UFC debut in June 2006 he shocked many of the UFC only fans by destroying Ultimate Fighter Season One cast member Chris Leben with a full arsenal of strikes. Two unplanned facial reconstruction surgeries for Rich Franklin further proved that Anderson Silva was the best middleweight on the planet.
While, a 185-pound unification bout with Pride middleweight champion Dan Henderson and subsequent win put Silva in the discussion of best fighter in MMA regardless of weight class.
It was a mere 12 months ago that Silva was atop MMA experts pound-for-pound rankings and promoted as the world’s most dangerous fighter by the UFC after the reigning UFC middleweight champion decided to move up to light heavyweight and dismantled James Irvin with a vicious TKO win in just 60 seconds.
Now the MMA media and fans are questioning the 34-year-old Brazilian’s desire to fight. Two lackluster showings against fringe top ten middleweights Patrick Cote and Thales Leites had Silva bored with the entire weight class he laid claim to since 2006.
The “Spider” has set the bar so high, winning his first seven UFC fights with little resistance, that when he didn’t blow his past two opponents out of the water the fans and the media became restless.
Up next for Silva is Forrest Griffin, who has been molded into bona fide main event fighter for the UFC.
The former UFC light heavyweight champion, Griffin went from the Ultimate Fighter to becoming the Ultimate gamer for the Las Vegas promotion. The lovable underdog has learned to bite since moving to Las Vegas and joining Xtreme Couture.
Despite losing his 205-pound belt to Rashad Evans in his last outing, Griffin always comes into a fight with a well thought out game plan and a few added wrinkles to his style.
Anderson Silva comes in as a heavy favorite at -370. Forrest Griffin has plenty of doubters going into this fight and comes in at +300 with the majority of odds-makers.
The consensus top five light heavyweight Griffin will present numerous problems for Silva’s second trip to 205 pounds. Standing 6’3" and walking around north of 230 Griffin is one of the bigger light heavyweights that Silva could be matched up with. Remember Silva began his career taking on 170 pound fighters back in 2000.
Silva will not be able to push Griffin around. In the clinch and up against the fence Griffin will have the edge.
Speed is Silva’s biggest weapon when moving up in weight. Griffin must avoid chasing Silva around the Octagon for 15 minutes. The longer the fight stays in the center of the cage the more it plays into Silva’s favor. In open space the “Spider’s” long limbs and lightning fast footwork give him the edge in the striking department.
If, the fight remains on the feet Griffin will have a hard time beating Silva.
Griffin will have a legitimate shot of pulling off the upset if he can get the fight to the ground and work on top of the smaller Silva for any sustained amount of time. Even though wrestling has never been Griffin’s strength, it is possible to take Silva down. Both Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson found mixed degrees of success when they got Silva on the mat.
Silva has shown that he likes a challenge. Forrest Griffin will give the UFC’s 185 pound champion all he can handle this Saturday night. If, Silva can’t get up for a fight with Griffin he may need to check his pulse.
More importantly is that if the same Anderson Silva walks into the cage that fought lackluster bouts against Cote and Leites makes an appearance at UFC 101 than the “Spider’s” perfect 9-0 record in the Octagon could easily be squashed by always motivated Forrest Griffin.
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