Anderson Silva is set to defend his appointed title as the greatest mixed martial artist on the planet when he fights Yushin Okami at UFC 134. “The Spider” has been so dominant that few fighters have even looked like they deserve to be in the cage with him, let alone competing for his UFC middleweight championship belt.
But that doesn’t mean that everyone would look like fools in the cage with Silva. As we saw when Fedor Emelianenko lost to Fabricio Werdum, the phrase “anyone is beatable” has never been more true than it is in MMA today.
There are fighters out there who could give Silva a run for his money. Heck, a few of them might even beat him!
Silva has never tasted defeat in the Octagon, but these are the top five fighters in the UFC who might be the one to make history by becoming the man to snap the longest streak in the company’s history and defeat the future UFC Hall of Famer.
UFC record: 5-2
“All American” Brian Stann is one of those rare types of people who can not only come across as an extraordinarily pleasant human being, but in the same breath catch you off guard as a guy who could smash just about anyone who has ever lived.
A captain in the U.S. Marine Corps, Stann got a late start to his mixed martial arts career but has wasted no time in becoming one of the truly elite fighters in the sport. He earned the WEC light heavyweight champion in just his sixth professional fight and was competing in the UFC just over a year after that.
But after a disappointing showing against one of the biggest up-and-comers in the UFC light heavyweight division in Phil Davis, Stann decided to make a major change by dropping down to 185 pounds. He has been a force to be reckoned with since making his debut in the UFC middleweight division in August 2010.
Violent knockout victories over Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago in back-to-back fights prove that Stann is not just a one-hit wonder but that he is here to stay.
Stann's awesome knockout power could make for a very interesting fight with the current 185-pound champion, Anderson Silva.
UFC record: 26-5
Ah yes, the last man to defeat Anderson Silva and the next to have a chance.
Yushin Okami will finally get the chance to truly earn a victory against Silva after a disqualification ended their first fight early back in 2006 when Silva landed an illegal upkick from his back.
Most would agree that Silva had dominated the fight up until that point, but the fight was where Okami wanted it when the disqualification happened: with the very dangerous Silva on his back.
Okami has been promised a title fight for quite awhile now, but has slowly been passed over for arguably lesser-qualified challengers like Vitor Belfort. Silva made a fool out of Belfort, who wanted to use his striking to catch “The Spider” off guard.
It is no secret, though, that Okami will be looking to bring Silva to the ground like he did in their first fight, where he may be able to earn himself a victory by way of control and ground-and-pound.
UFC record: 16-2
Hey, a guy can dream, right?
At this point, it’s hard to say whether a “dream” fight between Georges St-Pierre and Anderson Silva will ever happen. But one thing is for certain: The fans would be split nearly right down the middle on whom they think would walk out of the Octagon victorious.
Silva’s striking may be the best in the business, but St-Pierre has stepped up and absolutely terrorized some of the best strikers in his division, including B.J. Penn, Dan Hardy and Thiago Alves.
Even when it looks like he might be at a disadvantage in an area, St-Pierre somehow steps up his game and proves that he is the most well-rounded athlete the sport of mixed martial arts has ever seen.
St-Pierre’s wrestling is world class and we have seen in the past that this is the weak point in Silva’s game, if there is one to be exploited. If GSP can get the Brazilian to the ground, it would be very interesting to see if he could avoid being submitted by Silva’s sometimes unexpectedly impressive jiu-jitsu.
UFC record: 7-1
I know, I know, he’s a 205-pounder and he could never make it to middleweight. But that doesn’t mean that Silva won’t come back to the light heavyweight division to earn that division’s title back for the members of Black House.
Jon Jones only won the title back in March but he has quickly become one of the most controversial fighters. While some believe that Jones is just growing into his personality and skills, others cannot stand his cocky and often brash comments towards other fighters and even some fans and reporters.
But one thing is not up for debate: This kid can flat-out fight.
Jones is perhaps the most dynamic striker we have ever seen at 205 pounds. Normally maneuvers like spinning backfists/elbows and flying knees are reserved for the lighter weight classes, but Jones has made them an almost expected part of his offensive assault on the light heavyweight division.
Jones still has awhile to go before he has cleaned out his own weight class, but if the fight between St-Pierre and Silva never comes to fruition, we may eventually see them jump the gun a bit and put on a fight between Silva and Jones instead.
It may not have quite the fanfare surrounding it immediately, but it may actually end up being a more entertaining fight—and Jones might be the favorite, given his unbelievable physical attributes.
UFC record: 3-2
If you didn’t see this coming, shame on you!
The “Gangster from Oregon” checks in at the top of this list even though he actually lost to Anderson Silva in his most recent fight and was since suspended for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
After some so-so performances in Zuffa-owned organizations that included losses to Paulo Filho in the WEC and Demian Maia in the UFC, Sonnen finally had put together three straight quality victories coming into his UFC 117 showdown with Silva.
While victories over Nate Marquardt, Dan Miller and current UFC No. 1 contender Yushin Okami would normally put a fighter as a favorite against just about anyone, Sonnen went in as a big underdog at plus-300 against the UFC champion, Silva. Judging by the way that Silva had humiliated his recent opponents, very few were giving Sonnen any chance of even making it out of the first round unless Silva reverted to his ways of dancing and taunting as opposed to fighting.
But what happened that night shocked just about everyone, likely even Sonnen himself (although he’d never tell you that).
Sonnen dominated the fight from the opening bell, out-striking the world’s top 185-pound fighter by nearly six times as many shots. Going into the fifth and final round, it appeared to be a foregone conclusion that Silva had met his match and was about to be forced to hand over his UFC title to a man who had disrespected him repeatedly in pre-fight interviews.
But just like that, Silva struck again, this time slapping on a triangle from bottom-guard that seemed to catch Sonnen by surprise. With just 1:50 left in the fight, Sonnen was forced to submit to the middleweight kingpin who had escaped sure defeat.
While there is no guarantee that a second fight would go the same way as the first, one has to assume that Sonnen has done practically nothing other than work on his submission defense during the long layoff he has had between the fight against Silva and his upcoming bout against Brian Stann at UFC 136.
If Sonnen is able to brush off that triangle attempt from Silva, we would almost certainly be talking about a new UFC champion right now. Now it’s time for Sonnen to get back in the cage and prove it wasn’t a fluke.