The greatest ever, Anderson "The Spider" Silva
Anderson "The Spider" Silva devastated Yushin "Thunder" Okami in front of his home country at UFC 134 in Rio de Janeiro.
With the support of the Brazilian-biased HSBC Center crowd, Silva's elite level stand-up striking overwhelmed Okami en route to a Round 2 TKO.
Utilizing his customary head movement, feinting and some razzle dazzle, "The Spider" tactically picked apart Okami with an array of jabs, leg kicks and pin-point power punches.
Dazed and dismantled, "Thunder's" skill set was no match for Silva, who went on to defend his UFC middleweight championship a record nine times, with his 14th straight victory inside the Octagon.
Absolutely mesmerized by Silva's abilities, this author sat in awe as he once again has made the No. 1 contender look amateur.
Clearly the greatest striker on the planet and arguably the pound-for-pound king within all of mixed martial arts, I do believe Anderson Silva will retire as the UFC middleweight champion without succumbing to another loss.
Until his retirement from the sport occurs, Silva will defend his title against the following list of competitors.
Please follow along as I detail the top four contenders for Silva's crown and why they will not defeat "The Spider."
I welcome your comments.
Mark "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" Munoz is currently 11-2 overall, 6-2 within the UFC.
He has victories over Kendall Grove, C.B. Dollaway and Demian Maia, and outside of a split-decision defeat to Yushin Okami, Munoz's only blemish within the UFC was a knockout loss as a result of a head kick by Matt Hamill.
A strong competitor with the heart and will of a giant, Munoz is a very accomplished wrestler and utilizes his grappling pedigree to take his opponents to the mat and reign down very damaging "donkey kong hammer fists."
Munoz has been successful on 56 percent of his takedown attempts within the UFC. The ability to take an opponent to the mat is shown by Munoz's deception within the striking game.
In short, a successful takedown is accomplished when a solid striking game is utilized to divert the attention of the opposition towards the striking game. This distraction of sorts allows a grappler to execute the takedown successfully.
With respect to Munoz challenging Silva in the stand-up striking department, thus providing avenues for a takedown opportunity, "The Filipino Wrecking Machine" does not possess the stand-up brilliance of "The Spider."
Munoz will not be able to divert Silva's attention towards punches and kicks and open up an avenue for a takedown.
Without this necessary deception, Munoz's strengths as a wrestler will be neutralized, leaving the hard-hitting Filipino vulnerable to Silva's dominance as a striker.
In the end, Munoz may secure a takedown or two, but "The Spider" will punish Munoz in the stand-up department, ultimately knocking out the "Filipino Wrecking Machine."
Since dropping to middleweight from the 205-pound division, "The All-American" Brian Stann has achieved tremendous success.
Compound this success with the guidance and tutelage of Jackson Submission Fighting, and Stann has compiled an undefeated 3-0 record within the UFC middleweight division.
Challenging Chael Sonnen at UFC 136 (assuming a victory for the former Marine), would make Stann as the No. 1 contender for the title.
A tough, strong, powerful striker who has dominated the likes of Chris Leben and Jorge Santiago on their feet, Stann's talents as a stand-up striker are evolving with every fight.
More of a traditional kickboxer, "The All-American" can deliver tactically precise strikes with jaw-rattling results.
When faced up against Silva, however, Stann's traditional style will expose some gaping holes in his talents.
Without the ability to alter levels and planes as fluidly as "The Spider," Stann is a direct-line striker. In short, he does not possess the innate ability to manipulate striking angles on his offense, which adds to a solid defense.
Silva is known for his head movement and delivering punches, kicks, and knees from a wide variety of angles. Offensively, this talent leaves the opposition confused and off balance. Defensively, this innate ability provides Silva with the amazing instinct to minimize damage from counter-striking.
Working inside on a fighter, Silva is rarely tagged while closing the distance. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of this ability. It provides "The Spider" the opportunity to deliver those brutal knee strikes from the clinch while minimizing any return fire from his opposition.
Stann has come a long way in a short time inside the UFC. His development has been impressive. However, he is still years away from possessing the innate abilities of Silva and will not defeat "The Spider" in this stand-up war.
Chael Sonnen took Silva the distance in their previous matchup at UFC 117 in August 2010. Pushing "The Spider" for nearly five full rounds, Sonnen was defeated by Silva via a triangle choke at the 3:10 mark of Round 5.
Assuming a victory over the aforementioned Brian Stann at UFC 136, Sonnen will once again be provided the opportunity to challenge Silva for the title in the near future.
A powerful wrestler with excellent stand-up abilities, Sonnen is known for his grappling prowess and destructive ground-and-pound.
With a rematch potentially looming in the future for these two middleweights, what will be different in their second bout?
That answer is simple: nothing.
Sonnen displayed tremendous heart and tenacity in their initial title contest at UFC 117. However, Sonnen also gave everything he had and was defeated.
The ceiling of talent for Sonnen was clearly displayed in their August contest. Sonnen will not develop a new facet to his skill set that was not exhibited in their first go-around. He will not come in a greater striker, a greater grappler or with a greater submission defense.
In short, Sonnen exposed all his talents in August and still lost.
Sonnen's fate against Silva will be the same in a rematch. Silva is just too good, too knowledgeable and too adaptable of a fighter to allow Sonnen the opportunity to dominate him once again.
Silva will make the necessary changes to his fight game, whereas Sonnen will battle with the same set of skills that awarded him a defeat in the past.
Considering Sonnen's talents as self-hyped marketing machine, a tremendous buzz would follow this matchup.
However, no amount of talk or publicity by Sonnen will result in the grappler's removal of Silva from his rightfully earned pedestal of dominance.
The current Strikeforce middleweight champion, Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza has an impressive overall MMA record of 14-2 with 11 submission victories.
Holding victories over Robbie Lawler, Tim Kennedy and Joey Villasenor, the Brazilian will look to successfully defend his title against Luke Rockhold at Strikeforce 36 in September.
The lesser-known Brazilian champion when compared to Silva, Souza is an equally balanced fighter with a phenomenal skill set.
Relying heavily on his grappling and submission dominance, Souza is continually improving his stand-up skills to complement his ground game.
A fellow teammate of Silva's at Black House in Brazil, the opportunity to challenge for a unification bout against Silva may be in Souza's future.
Assuming the two champions come to terms and agree to battle one another, Souza's fate may be similar to that of both Sonnen's and Munoz's.
Needing to excel in the stand-up striking department for an opportunity to take Silva to the ground and look for a submission victory, Souza, like the other two world-renowned grapplers, is not talented enough in his striking game to consistently execute the needed takedown.
Souza's talents are greater than the other three competitors. However, Souza's skill set does not rival that of Silva's.
Silva will keep this fight standing by peppering his Brazilian brethren with jabs and leg kicks until he sees a window for the power punch.
Keeping Souza at bay, Jacare's dominance as a Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner will not be an aspect of this matchup. In short, the fight will not take place on the ground where Souza holds a slight advantage over Silva in the BJJ facet.
Therefore, because "The Spider" is too good, too elusive and possesses too many knockout talents on his feet, Silva will continue to reign supreme over the greatest middleweight contenders offered up by the UFC.