UFC 129: Dethroning a Champion, 3 Fighters That Could Take out Anderson Silva

Jesse CurranContributor IApril 24, 2011

UFC 129: Dethroning a Champion, 3 Fighters That Could Take out Anderson Silva

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    I’d like to start off by presenting some stats that I think will help introduce who and what this article is all about.

     

    35 years old, 28-4, 16 wins coming by way of KO/TKO, and currently on a 14-fight win streak.

    29 years old, 21-2, 13 wins coming by way of either KO/TKO or submission, and currently on an eight-fight win streak.

    33 years old, 25-11-1, 11-4 since 2006, and has had win streaks of 5+ three different times (5, 5, and 6).

    23 years old, 13-1, 11 wins coming by way of KO/TKO or submission, 7-1 in the UFC and his only loss came by way of disqualification.

    Three of these four fighters are champions and one is a former No. 1 contender. If you’re a hardcore fan like me you can probably figure out on your own who is who. In case you can’t, don’t worry. I’ll elaborate in a moment.

    Between now and the end of Anderson Silva’s UFC career, whenever that may be, it’s a mystery if he will ever lose again.

    Whether he faces defeat inside the Octagon or not, I believe that there are a handful of fighters in a few divisions who have the ability, skill set, and real potential of actually getting the job done. 

    I decided to choose a fighter from each division that could theoretically fight him starting with Welterweight (170 lbs.) and work up to Light Heavyweight (205 lbs.)

Welterweight: Georges “Rush” St-Pierre

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    In the history of the UFC, there are two fighters that could be argued as the best champion the Welterweight division has ever seen: Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre.

    Hughes is 45-8 in his very impressive lengthy career. St-Pierre is 21-2 in his career. The 2 men fought each other on 3 occasions each time for the UFC Welterweight title, St-Pierre being the victor in the latter 2 matches.

    Hughes fought in a total of 12 championship fights defending his title seven different times, whereas GSP has been in a total of 10 championship fights and has defended his title five times.

    GSP has had win streaks of 6, 7, and 8 beating the likes of Karo Parisyan, Jason “Mayhem” Miller, Frank Trigg, Sean Sherk, B.J. Penn (twice), Hughes (twice), Matt Serra, Josh Koscheck (twice), John Fitch, Thiago Alves, and Dan Hardy.

    The vast majority of these fighters were top contenders when they faced off against GSP and he ran right through them, coming out virtually unscathed.

    Whether it was in exciting or boring fashion, GSP has made almost every win he as ever gotten look easy. His pinpoint accurate striking, great Jiu-Jitsu skills, and tremendous wrestling make him an extremely dangerous threat in every facet of the fight game.

    No matter the opponent GSP has always seemed to have an overwhelming advantage, making every opponent feel uncomfortable even at their own strong suits.

    Georges has been defeated only twice in his professional career. He was submitted in his eight fight by Matt Hughes at UFC 50 and was TKO’d by Matt Serra at UFC 69.

    When St-Pierre faced off against Hughes for the first time Hughes was the reigning Welterweight Champion and GSP was merely a promising up-and-comer. Hughes locked on an armbar right before the bell rang at the end of Round 1, forcing GSP to tap.

    Just over two years and five wins later, GSP got a rematch with the still reigning champion Hughes. This fight played out quite differently, with St-Pierre winning by a devastating TKO in Round No. 2.

    GSP’s first title defense would be against TUF Season 4 winner Matt Serra. Many people thought that GSP was “the next big thing” and the world was shocked when Serra overwhelmed and knocked out the newly crowned champ.

    Coming off of his second career loss, GSP was matched up against top contender and a fellow highly skilled wrestler Josh Koscheck. St-Pierre won a one-sided unanimous decision.

    Welterweight Champion Matt Serra was sidelined due to injury so Matt Hughes and Georges St-Pierre faced off for the rubber match and for the Interim UFC Welterweight Championship.

    GSP once again avenged his first career loss and this time in the same fashion in which he was defeated catching Hughes in an armbar at the end of Round No. 2.

    Once Serra was healthy, his first title defense was a rematch with GSP to unify the Welterweight belts and to determine an undisputed champion. GSP avenged his second career loss at UFC 83 at the 4:45 mark of Round No. 2.

    St-Pierre showcased deadly striking, capped off with vicious knees to the body rendering Serra next to useless earning GSP the TKO victory and making him the undisputed Welterweight Champion of the world.

    Following GSP’s acquisition of the Welterweight belt he has defeated an undefeated Jon Fitch, Lightweight Champion B.J. Penn (for a second time), Muay Thai specialist Thiago Alves, heavy-handed  knockout artist Dan Hardy, and All-World wrestler Josh Koscheck (for a second time), defending his title five times.

    On April 30 at UFC 129, GSP is scheduled to defend his title for a sixth time against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu master Jake Shields.

    Many critics, news personalities, and fans alike are considering Shields to be just another stepping stone on the path leading towards a GSP vs Anderson Silva “super fight.”

    However, Shields is by no means a slouch and was the champion of four other MMA promotions. Jake is currently on a 15-fight win streak and hasn’t lost in 6+ years. Shields holds a professional record of 26-4.

    Out of his four losses, he was only finished once which was way back in March of 2000 and it was only Shields third pro fight.

    After Jake’s fourth loss, which was to Akira Kikuchi in December of 2004, he has gone undefeated winning 15 straight and beating the likes of Toby Imada, Yushin Okami and Carlos Condit (both in the same night), Mike Pyle, Nick Thompson, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Jason Miller, Dan Henderson, and Martin Kampmann. 

    He’s competed at both Welterweight and Middleweight and had great success ]in both defeating future WEC Welterweight champ Carlos Condit and former Pride Middleweight champ Dan Henderson.

    Shields has beaten and dominated the very best fighters that every promotion outside of the UFC has had to offer.

    If GSP is able to get past a very worthy opponent in Jake Shields at UFC 129 in Toronto, it’s likely just a matter of days, if not hours, before UFC President Dana White announces the “super fight” between Middleweight champ Anderson Silva and Welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre.

    As it stands right now, that is merely a “fantasy fight” as Dana White has said several times in the past. However, bookies in Vegas have already said a betting line which currently has Silva at -170 and St-Pierre at +140. Silva is almost a 2-1 favorite, which seems a little extreme.

    Granted, Silva would have a slight size advantage, but GSP is one of the greatest wrestlers the sport of Mixed Martial Arts has ever seen. If there is one weakness that Silva has shown to have it is fighting against top level wrestlers (Chael Sonnen, Dan Henderson, and even Travis Lutter had relative success).

    GSP also has some of the best striking in the game, but anytime he has come across a fighter of equal or greater striking ability he has stuck to his “bread and butter”: wrestling.

    If GSP is able to stand with Silva and have average to above average success he should have no problem taking the Brazilian champion down. Silva has great Jiu-Jitsu and is good off of his back but GSP’s Jiu-Jitsu is arguably as good and he has never gotten caught when having top position.

    GSP should be able to control the pace and location of the fight due his excellent wrestling and ultimately get a win.

    Although, GSP would most likely grind out a decision as opposed to finish the Brazilian, he’s definitely the Welterweight that has the best shot at dethroning the champ.

Middleweight: Chael Sonnen

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    Aug. 7, 2010. That is the date of the worst beating, and the toughest fight, of Anderson Silva’s career.  UFC 117 at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., is where trash-talking All-World wrestler Chael Sonnen laid waste to the notion that Anderson Silva was “indestructible.” 

    Anderson Silva is an extremely well-rounded fighter and has mastered most facets of mixed martial arts. He is most known, however, for his phenomenal striking, and prior to his showdown with Sonnen at UFC 117, Silva had never been out-struck in his UFC career.

    Sonnen showed the world that he was much more than just a wrestler by out-striking the champion an astounding 89-29.

    A majority of the strikes that led to such a discrepancy were landed while Sonnen had Silva on his back, but Sonnen still significantly out-struck “The Spider” on the feet as well, rocking and stunning the Brazilian on multiple occasions.

    Sonnen kept a relentless pace throughout the entire course of the fight showing exceptional cardio and no sign of slowing down.  Concurrently, Silva looked fairly fatigued fighting off of his back for upwards of 20 minutes. 

    There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that Chael won the first four rounds, was well on this way to winning the fifth and final round, and ultimately winning the fight and becoming the new UFC Middleweight Champion.

    However, Sonnen has always been rather opposed to training in Jiu-Jitsu, whether it be offense or defense, and has been submitted several times in the past (eight of his 11 defeats came by way of submission).

    As a fight goes into the later rounds, obviously both fighters are going to tire out. Having spent the majority of the fight on his back Silva appeared significantly more depleted than Sonnen.

    For most of the fight, Sonnen was either in Silva’s half guard or full guard, which Silva kept very low on Sonnen’s body. In the fifth round, however, Silva transitioned into a much higher guard more suitable for pulling off submissions. 

    At right around the two and a half minute mark of Round No. 5, Silva brought his guard up high and quickly and flawlessly went for a Triangle-Choke. As previously mention Sonnen’s submission defense is quite lacking to say the least, and he got stuck within a matter of seconds and went to sleep.

    It took just a split second for months of training and preparation, nearly 25 minutes of the best performance of Sonnen’s career, and his lifelong dream of becoming world champion to go for naught.

    For the better portion of a decade, Anderson Silva has looked unbeatable and many people have thought just that. Only a few times in the UFC has Silva ever really been challenged or had to actually work hard. Nate Marquardt looked pretty good for about five minutes before getting knocked out.

    Thales Leites and Demian Maia went a full five rounds, albeit getting beaten pretty convincingly all five rounds.

    Dan Henderson had a pretty impressive showing (probably the best competition “The Spider” faced inside of the Octagon) for almost two entire rounds before overlooking Silva’s Jiu-Jitsu and getting caught at the end of Round No. 2.

    None of these fighters, however, really made Silva work too hard or ever really made it seem like Silva was in a position to lose. Sonnen on the other hand brought the champion and his fans alike, back down to reality. Never in the past had Silva ever been made to look so “human” in MMA.

    Silva’s next title defense was against longtime UFC vet and fellow Brazilian striking phenom Vitor Belfort. Many thought this would be a tough test for the champion because Belfort was arguably the most accomplished striker Silva had ever faced.

    Silva went on to quickly finish his opponent with a highlight-reel first round front kick-to-the-head KO.

    What’s next for the UFC’s Middleweight Champion? Many have called for a “super fight” between Anderson Silva and UFC Welterweight Champion Georges “Rush” St-Pierre.

    Yushin Okami is said to be next in line for a shot at the Middleweight title, although that is not a fight that a lot of people are very excited about.

    Many have called for Silva to move indefinitely up to Light Heavyweight so he can fight bigger and strong fighters. Silva’s future, however, is still undecided.

    Another thing that is still undecided is the future of the aforementioned Chael Sonnen. After his bout with Anderson Silva at UFC 117 he has had a handful of personal issues. First, it was registering unusually high levels of testosterone which got him suspended for a year by the California State Athletic Commission.

    The initial tests, however, were later proved in a hearing with the CSAC to be incorrect and Sonnen’s suspension was dropped from a year to six months for “failure to properly disclose information.” The information being that he was taking medically prescribed testosterone for a disease called hypogonadism.

    Just a couple months after that Sonnen pled guilty for money laundering charges in connection with some minor mortgage fraud. Sonnen reportedly made a plea deal which results in a $10,000 fine and 2 years probation. The final hearing was held on April 8, which confirmed the reports.

    During all of this UFC President Dane White “froze” Sonnen’s contract until everything got straightened out. Sonnen’s suspension from the CSAC has been up since March 2 and after his hearing on April 8.

    Sonnen has been looking to get back into training and get a fight shortly after that. Rumors have already started about Sonnen fighting top Middleweight contender and  fellow trash talker, Michael Bisping.

    The two have already engaged in some online name-calling via interviews and their Twitter accounts.

    Recent reports came out referring to Sonnen and Bisping coaching season 14 of The Ultimate Fighter (which is set to film and air September-December) which would then lead up to the two fighting for No. 1 contender status in December.

    If this fight, which is still very much a “fantasy fight,” were to take place, and Sonnen come out victorious, a rematch with Anderson Silva could be the fight of the century.

    Before any of this can actually take place, however, Chael has to appear before the Nevada State Athletic Commission to once again get licensed as a fighter and also to get his cornerman’s license (which he needs to be able to coach).

    If the stars ever align just right where there would be a rematch of UFC 117, there’s no doubt in my mind that Chael Sonnen has the best shot in the Middleweight division, maybe even in all of MMA, of defeating and dethroning UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.

Light Heavyweight: Jon "Bones" Jones

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    At just 23 Years and 242 Days old, Jon Jones defeated Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and became the youngest champion in the UFC’s 17+ year history.

    Jones’ tremendous wrestling and dynamic striking make him an extremely difficult opponent for any fighter.  Holding a very impressive professional record of 13-1 (7-1 in the UFC), his only loss was a disqualification to Matt Hamill, a fight in which Jones was in complete control of before getting DQ’d  due to illegal elbows .

    Ever since Jones joined the UFC back in August 2008 he has improved by leaps and bounds every fight. With 13 professional wins only 2 of them went to the judges’ score cards. His first two fights in the UFC were against Andre Gusmao and Stephan Bonner both of which were won via unanimous decision.

    Jon’s next fight was in July 2009 and was his first being a member of the Greg Jackson Camp. Jon was matched up against Jake O’Brien, and the finishes in the UFC began. JBJ won via Guillotine Choke in the second round and has dominated or finished every fight since.

    Jon’s only “loss” was his next fight which came five months later in December 2009 against Ultimate Fighter Season 3 Alum and wrestling phenom Matt Hamill.

    After this highly controversial disqualification, Jones got right back on his horse in 2010 recording first round TKO victories over UFC vets Brandon Vera and Vladimir Matyushenko.

    His impressive performances thus far in the UFC earned him, what wasn’t announced as but ended up being, a Light Heavyweight Title Eliminator fight against feared wrestler and accomplished striker Ryan Bader. 

    Bader’s All-American wrestling proved to be useless against the Endicott, N.Y., native. Jones stuffed Bader’s takedown attempts and even took Bader down himself, which appeared to break Bader’s will.

    In Round No. 2 Jones showcased overwhelming striking, caught Bader off guard against the fence, and took him down again. Once on the ground, Jones made short work of the Ultimate Fighter Season 8 winner choking him out at the 4:20 mark.

    It was announced immediately after the fight that this victory earned Jones a shot to replace the injured Rashad Evans and faceoff against Light Heavyweight Champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.

    March 19, 2011 is when this much anticipated title match took place. The crowd at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., was electric as this soon to be legendary fight was about to take place.

    Within seconds of Round No. 1 Jones threw a flying knee that hurt the Champion significantly, and it was just a matter of time from there before the fight would be over. Jones predominantly relied on his always improving standup game for the majority of the fight, which many would have thought was a bad idea against such a highly esteemed striker like Rua. 

    JBJ proved the world wrong, however, by showing to be the dominant striker for upwards of three rounds. In Round No. 3 Jon demolished the Brazilian in the clinch and on the ground landing several powerful elbows to the head and knees to the body.

    Shogun staggered back to his feet and Jones landed a vicious knee to the head which got the fight stopped and earned him the TKO victory and the much-coveted UFC Light Heavyweight belt.

    In Jon Jones’ short three-year professional career he has risen to the pinnacle of the MMA world and looked completely unstoppable. After the fight with Rua rumors started floating around about Jones taking on UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.

    Long story short, because I know this piece has already been a very long story, whether these rumors ever come to fruition or not Jones vs. Silva would be a greatly desired fight.

    Jones has showed to be smarter, faster, and stronger than every opponent he’s faced in the past and Silva would most likely be no different.

    If these two champions were to ever face off, Jon Jones has an extremely great chance of dethroning the longtime UFC Middleweight Champion, and might even be the favorite.