Anderson "The Spider" Silva is now entering the last chapter of his storied mixed martial arts career.
Since his first professional fight in 2000, a split decision loss to Luiz Azeredo, Silva has gone 22 - 3 with thirteen of his wins coming by way of knockout.
Along the way he has accumulated three middleweight championship belts in Shooto, Cage Rage, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).
Silva has been a dominating force inside the octagon and is arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world today.
At 6'2" and 185 pounds he is the prototype for a new wave MMA fighter. His pinpoint muay thai striking and world class jiu-jitsu ground game fuse together to form one of the most dynamic skill sets in the entire sport.
The most special thing about Silva, however, is that he appears to be getting stronger and smarter with each fight and he shows no signs of slowing down at the age of 33.
In the UFC he is now 7 - 0, including three successful title defenses. All seven victories have been won by Silva in two rounds or less and he has finished each fight either by submission, knockout, or technical knockout. He has been dominant and largely untested.
His UFC victories are basically a who's who list of great fighters including Chris Leben, former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin (twice), Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, former PRIDE middleweight and light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson, and most recently James Irvin.
Silva is once again readying himself for what will be his fourth title defense in the UFC. He is set to take on Canadian striker Patrick Cote at UFC 90 on October 25, 2008. A victory over Cote would give Silva eight straight victories in the UFC and tie the all-time record held by Royce Gracie and Jon Fitch.
Recently, the news that Silva would be calling it quits and retiring when his contract was fulfilled sent shockwaves through the MMA community.
According to MMA.tv, Silva's manager Ed Soares recently said, "Anderson's goal is to retire when he is 35. He still has six fights on his contract and he doesn't turn 35 for another 18 months. I know he will finish his six fights before he considers hanging up his gloves."
Why would arguably the best fighter in the world consider retirement in his mid-thirties?
First of all, in combat sports the window of opportunity for success and fortune is constantly closing. The bodies of these athletes get to a point where they can simply no longer handle the demands of the sport.
The years of getting battered and beaten in training and in competition takes a toll even on the great fighters. There is also a fine line between competing with a diminishing skill set and putting yourself in danger. Some fighters like Ken Shamrock simply do not know when to quit.
Former UFC champions Chuck Liddell and Matt Hughes are now on the downslope of their careers. Both have now lost three of their last four fights. Silva doesn't want to be in the same boat as Liddell and Hughes. He wants to go out on top and he wants to be in good health when he leaves.
While his legacy and his health are important his family is his number one priority. Mike Chiappetta of NBCSports.com has also spoken with Silva's manager Ed Soares. In a recent article he writes that "... Silva has a desire to spend more time with his family. Silva has four children and spends much of his time on the road training and competing."
As it stands now he has six remaining fights on his contract and then he will bow out. The aforementioned fight with Cote will knock the remaining balance on his contract down to just five fights. It is now the UFC management's job to line up five opponents that will send Silva off into the sunset.
Who could those five potential future opponents be? Here are some possibilities and the likelihood of them happening:
To finish the article click over to TopGunMMA: http://www.topgunmma.com/viewArticle.php?articleID=10610.
Your patience is appreciated.