Anderson Silva Vs. Vitor Belfort: The Kick Heard Round The Octagon
UFC Middleweight Champion had to hear the rumblings, he must have been made aware of all the talk that he hasn't been the same fighter, and that the beating he took at the hands of Chael Sonnen was just the beginning. Many pundits were talking about how the decline in a fighters skills comes seemingly overnight without a warning, how the speed and reflexes were the first to go.
If that wasn't enough to get a fighter's juices flowing the chorus of boos rained down upon Silva during his entrance to the octagon had to open his eyes and dealt a blow to his ego. No matter what a fighter says it is impossible to completely ignore almost 17,000 people showing a man who has accomplished what Silva has absolutely no respect.
Is Silva completely blameless in all of this? Absolutely not. Beginning with Patrick Cote at UFC 90, continuing with Thales Leites at UFC 97, and culminating with the disrespect and blatant disregard for the fans and Demian Maia at UFC 112, Silva had been vilified for his behavior. In what seemed like an attempt to punish the UFC for matching him up with opponents that were not on his level, Silva acted like a spoiled brat who took his ball home when he didn't get his way.
Even after suffering a non-stop assault both physically and verbally during his match-up with Sonnen, Silva could not seem to get the fans back on his side. Even after showing a tremendous amount of heart and a true warriors spirit by submitting Sonnen with a last minute triangle after being battered for over 22 minutes, Silva was still made out to be the villain. It just goes to show you that we live in a what have you done for me lately society.
Belfort has always been a fan favorite, he burst on to the scene back in 1997. Utilizing speed and strength hardly ever seen held by one man, Belfort ran roughshod over his competition by winning five of his first six UFC bouts in the first round needing just 15:55. He ended his first UFC run with a dazzling, awe inspiring knockout over Wanderlei Silva that took all of 44 seconds. Nicknamed the Phenom, Belfort proved very worthy of his nickname.
Belfort was brought back to the UFC after a 4 1/2 year absence with the sole intention of challenging Silva for his middleweight title. After defeating former UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin at UFC 103 in September via 1st round TKO he was on his way. Unfortunately injuries kept him on the sidelines for over 16 months before last night's title shot. Even though he would be coming off such a long layoff there were many who believed he still had what it took to defeat Silva.
It took Silva less than 3 1/2 minutes to prove that he was no closer to losing his skills than Belfort was ready to dethrone him and take away the championship he has held since October of 2006, a reign that has seen him defend his title a UFC record eight times. There is a reason why UFC President Dana White calls Silva the top pound for pound fighter in the world. Combining speed, strength, and dynamic footwork with extremely unorthodox striking Silva showed that he is far from finished.
Fans grew restless and neither man made any attempts to engage the other for the first two minutes, it seemed as though we may be witnessing another Silva fight in which he was bored and uninspired. Silva began to get frustrated around the three minute mark as he implored Belfort to make a move. As the chants for Vitor grew louder, Silva was content to dance in front of Belfort. Randy Couture could be heard shouting instructions from Belfort's corner.
Belfort made the first move around the 2:20 mark as he attempted to land a flurry of punches, but Silva quickly backed away. With his hands at his side Silva threw a head kick that went high over Belforts head. Vitor landed a short right to the chin of Silva and took him down only to see The Spider jump right back up. Silva blocked a head kick from Belfort and while you could still see some of the vaunted hand speed, Silva was that much quicker in dodging his punches.
Then out of nowhere Silva threw a straight kick right to the jaw of Belfort and knocked him to the canvas. Two punches on the ground later and Silva had defended not only his title, but his skill-set and his desire to show the world just how great of a fighter he truly is. There are less than a handful of fighters who could land that kick. Silva now has the distinction of being the first fighter to ever knock Belfort out. It was quick, precise, and deadly just like the Silva that took the UFC by storm a few short years ago.
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