Anderson Silva is considered by many to be the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
He is undefeated in the UFC, having constantly fought and defeated the best fighters around.
I have heard Silva described as the fighting version of a sniper rifle, and this sums him up perfectly. He has the innate ability to hit without being hit, and his precision is deadly.
At UFC 117, Silva will be fighting the accomplished wrestler Chael Sonnen, and whilst many pundits are talking up Sonnen's chances, I personally believe Silva will destroy him.
After the infamous clown show against Demian Maia at UFC 112, and the resultant tongue lashing from Dana White, Silva should come out fired up.
Add in the extra motivation of Sonnen's trash talking and racist comments leading up to the fight, and there is every reason to believe we will see the "old" Anderson Silva on display. This is bad news for Sonnen.
So is there anyone out there who can navigate the Spiders web?
After much deliberation, I have settled on the five fighters I believe are more than capable of defeating the seemingly invincible Silva.
The "Phenom" Vitor Belfort is one of the very few fighters in the world, who has both the speed and accuracy to get the better of Anderson Silva in a stand up battle.
That is a big call I know, as Silva has fought (albeit briefly) as a professional boxer, and has demonstrated his striking dominance in the UFC time and again over hapless opponents.
Anyone who is familiar with Vitor's career will understand why I make the claim that Vitor could not just stand with Anderson Silva, but potentially better him.
For those who aren't familiar with the Phenom, watch the short video below, where Vitor destroys Wanderlei Silva in a Manny Pacquiao style blur early in the first round.
The main reason why Vitor could beat Silva is in boxing, an area where Silva has dominated almost everyone he has fought.
However, when deciding on a gameplan with which to engage Belfort, standing toe to toe could potentially be a very dangerous choice of tactics for the Spider, as he would be trading with the only middleweight who has faster hands than Silva himself.
Whilst rarely seen, Vitor also possesses an excellent ground game, with black belts in both BJJ and Judo, so it is unlikely Silva would have an advantage in this facet either.
Although it has been said before with Dan Henderson and others, Vitor Belfort could actually be a bad match up for Anderson Silva.
The Phenom at his best can take on and defeat anyone in a stand up exchange, even Anderson Silva.
Not convinced? How about this devastating 30 second KO of Matt Lindland.
Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida has the best of both worlds.
He is the son of a Japanese Shotokan Karate master, and has trained in Karate since the age of three, achieving the rank of Third Dan.
His Japanese heritage has also led him to extensive sumo training, making him possibly the only representative of Sumo in MMA.
Having been born in Brazil, Machida has trained in BJJ since the age of 15 and holds a black belt.
Lyoto is known as the last Samurai, and for a good reason. He is a true martial artist in every sense of the word.
He is a calm and respectful warrior who constantly meditates on fighting and life in general. He once stated (in a pre UFC 98 interview), “My body is my sword, my mind is my blade."
He has proven that there is a place for arts like Karate as a primary style in MMA, provided one has a solid basis in the fundamental elements of MMA.
With his unorthodox technique and the speed to match Silva, he presents a genuine threat to the Spider. His martial arts resume is every bit as complete as Silva’s, and like Silva, he has few weaknesses.
Machida and Silva are training partners and good friends, so it goes without saying that a matchup is unlikely even if Silva moves up to light heavyweight.
Regardless, the bout could happen one day, and if it did, it would be a great Muay Thai vs. Karate battle between two accurate, fast, and deadly strikers.
The Last Samurai has both the weapons and the mindset to defeat Anderson Silva.
In most arguments over the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA, it comes down to two men: Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre.
It is unlikely there is a more desired fight in the world than Silva vs. GSP. It would inevitably be the biggest fight in the history of MMA, and for good reason.
Both men absolutely dominate their respective divisions and even when scanning the horizon outside of the UFC, it is hard to find a legitimate threat to GSP at welterweight or Silva at middleweight.
GSP is an excellent wrestler and proponent of ground n' pound. Wrestling is said to be Anderson Silva's Achilles heal, as was evidenced early in the fight against Dan Henderson at UFC 82.
While GSP does not posses the wrestling pedigree of someone like Dan Henderson, he is regardless one of the most effective wrestlers in MMA, and has the ability to take his opponents down with ease.
GSP's career takedown percentage is around 78 percent, meaning if he wants to take you down, you’re going to the ground.
Basically, if the fighters were to stay on their feet, Silva would have a clear advantage (as usually is the case). However, if the fight goes to the ground, then the advantage is reversed.
Conditioning could also play a large part. The longer the fight continues, the more cardiovascular endurance comes into play.
Not taking anything away from Silva, who has excellent cardio himself, but GSP is in a class above as evidenced by his recent five-rounders against Alves, Hardy, and Fitch, where he hardly slowed down as the bouts wore on.
Because Anderson Silva is a larger man, he would have to cut some weight to fight GSP, even if the bout was at a catchweight.
Any potential loss of strength Silva encountered whilst cutting weight, no matter how slight, would make it that much easier for GSP to execute takedowns on Silva and subsequently work the ground n' pound.
If GSP did take Silva down and keep him there, then he would more than likely be heading towards a comfortable victory.
Below is an example of GSP's wrestling and ground n' pound at its finest.
Cung Le is a formidable martial artist.
He is schooled in Viet Vo Dao, Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, Wushu Kung Fu, Sanshou, Wrestling, and BJJ. Le is a very well-rounded fighter who dominates opponents in all forms of competition.
His professional Kickboxing record is 17-0, with 12 KO's. He has fought at K-1 level and is undefeated.
His professional Sanshou record is 16-0, and he has won more awards, titles, and tournaments in Sanshou and open martial arts tournaments than I care to mention.
His only loss in two decades of competing at the highest levels came in 2009 at Strikeforce: Evolution, when after dominating the heavy-handed Scott Smith for two and a half rounds, he got caught late in the third with a big punch and a quick follow-up flurry.
He avenged this loss easily with a solid KO over Smith at the recent Fedor vs. Werdum card.
Cung Le has the most complete and devastating arsenal of kicks in all of MMA. At a Strikeforce event in 2008, Le broke Frank Shamrock's arm with a solid round kick to the upper arm.
In my opinion, he is one of the most underrated fighters in MMA.
Whilst Anderson Silva has superior hands and speed, Cung Le would trouble him with his versatile arsenal of kicks and his superior wrestling ability.
This would be a battle of two of the most complete martial artists in MMA, with Anderson Silva's dynamic Muay Thai pitted against Cung Le's formidable Kickboxing.
Whilst Silva would deservedly come into the fight as the favourite, Cung Le definitely has the tools to defeat the Spider.
Below is an example of Cung Le's well rounded martial arts and wrestling ability.
If I had to use one word to describe Mauricio Rua, it would be violent!
Known for his wild and aggressive style, he has a devastating striking arsenal that was regularly put on show at Pride FC cards, where he became famous for his nasty soccer kicks and foot stomps.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has stood toe to toe with and defeated the best strikers in the world, including Chuck Liddell, Quinton Jackson, and Alistair Overeem among others.
Whilst Shogun is not as quick as Anderson Silva, he is naturally larger and more powerful, even though giving up two inches in height.
Just like Silva, Shogun's Muay Thai is dynamic, and he would probably take the fight right to the Spider, giving him very little time or room to gauge his opponent and measure his strikes as Silva likes to do.
Although they both hold black belts in BJJ, one tends to think this would be a Muay Thai war, and whilst Silva's clinch and knees are deadly, Shogun himself is no slouch.
With his aggressiveness and KO power, combined with world class Muay Thai skills, Shogun could definitely defeat Anderson Silva.
Watch this highlight video for an example of Shogun's devastating KO ability.