Anderson Silva: 5 Light Heavyweights Who'll Give Him a Run for His Money
Another UFC pay per view headlined by Anderson Silva in the books, and another contender falls victim to the wrath of "The Spider." This time, the place was UFC 134, and the opponent was Yushin Okami. Heading into the fight, Okami, the most powerful middleweight in the UFC and the last person to defeat Silva (albeit by disqualification), was still widely regarded as the underdog by pretty much everyone. However, very few expected him to be dispatched as quickly and easily, as he was at the hands of Silva.
Of course, Anderson Silva has made a career off of making excellent mixed martial artists look like amateurs when standing across from him inside the Octagon. UFC 134, as we all witnessed, was no exception.
With this most recent victory, "The Spider" lengthened his already impressive streak of successful UFC title defenses to a now undisputed record of ten straight. The UFC middleweight divisionsimply does not seem to have an answer for the riddle of Anderson Silva.
The light heavyweight division, on the other hand, may hold the key.
All across the online MMA community, Bleacher Report included, fans are calling for Silva to take the next logical step up in competition by moving into the UFC's 205 pound division. In the end, it's no one's call besides the champion himself, and may never even happen as result. However, if it does, there will be an entirely new crop of talent for Silva to compete against.
This list is going to take a look at the top five light heavyweights in the UFC who could feasibly give Silva a run for his money. Away we go!
5. "Sugar" Rashad Evans
The No. 5 slot on this countdown was a bit of a toss-up between Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and the man whom I ended up choosing, "Sugar" Rashad Evans.
Clearly, either fighter would draw quite an impressive crowd if paired up with Anderson Silva. Both men possess quite a bit of name value, and both would bring a decent fight to "The Spider." However, in the end, I think Evans would stand a better chance at actually winning the fight than Jackson.
As much as I like Jackson, I simply don't think he'd bring a well-rounded enough game plan to be able to deal with Silva. He's a powerful striker, but it's doubtful that he would be able to close the distance in order to deliver on those strikes. In all likelihood, Jackson himself would end up on the receiving end of a knock out, rather than Silva.
Evans, on the other hand, at least has a good ground game to work with. Not to mention that he'd be smart enough to use it, instead of electing to stand and trade with Silva once he caught his rhythm.
I'll be honest, I'm not convinced that Evans could defeat Silva, but he does have the skills to do so should he come into the cage with the right plan of action. In the end, I do believe Silva would win somehow or another, but Evans certainly has the talent to at least make it interesting.
4. "Mr. Wonderful" Phil Davis
No. 4 on the list might come as a surprise to some, but I think Phil Davis would stand a pretty good chance of upsetting Anderson Silva if the two were to ever lock horns.
Hear me out here, before you pass judgement.
I'm certainly not saying that Davis stands much of a chance of stopping Silva early. However, if he could stay away from the stand up game in favor of utilizing his superior wrestling skills, "Mr. Wonderful" could definitely grind out a decision victory over Silva.
If Silva has any significant holes in his game, it's against strong wrestlers who aren't afraid to take a punch or two in order to move a fight to the ground. Chael Sonnen exposed this and nearly unseated Silva by doing exactly that in their fight last October. So long as he stays away from Silva's criminally-overlooked submissions, which is what eventually cost Sonnen the aforementioned middleweight title bout, Phil Davis could ride that fight plan all the way to an upset victory.
"Mr. Wonderful" is still relatively early in his MMA career. However, if given the opportunity, I feel that he might be the guy who knocks Silva from his perch.
3. Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida
Out of all the possible fights laid out in this slideshow, this bout with Lyoto Machida, in my opinion, would be the most interesting. By his placement on the list, I suppose it goes without saying that I don't think Machida is the ultimate challenge for Silva at light heavyweight, but I do think he would provide the most intruguing match-up.
Unfortunately, this is also the least likely of the list to ever happen. Silva and Machida are both close friends and training partners as well. When previously asked about moving up to the light heavyweight division, Silva cited it being "Machida's division" as his reason for not making the move.
Let's just pretend that's a non-issue for the sake of argument.
The fact that they are friends and training partners would realistically make the fight much more interesting. Both Machida and Silva are known for their elusive and unorthodox styles, which has given many an opponent many a problem on both sides. However, as partners, each man knows what the other brings to the table. Having such an intimate understanding of your opponent always helps in creating a game plan, and these two would be no different.
The only downside is that both fighters tend to rely quite heavily on counter-striking, which could lead to a very boring fight if each man continuously waits on the other to strike first. However, assuming that wasn't the case, and someone did indeed strike right out of the gate, it would be an incredible fight to watch.
If Silva were to agree to the bout, he would need to prepare himself for one hell of a fight, while the fans would need to prepare to spend $50 to see it...because this is certainly a fight than no MMA fan would want to miss.
2. Dan "Hendo" Henderson
I know what you're thinking, and yes, Anderson Silva already defeated Dan Henderson once before at middleweight.
That, however, was several years ago.
In the time since, "Hendo" has evolved quite a bit as a mixed martial artist and has done so in nearly every area of his game. I'm not saying the "new" Henderson could definitely beat Silva, but he stands an excellent chance of doing so, in my opinion. Somehow, Henderson has gotten better with age, and I imagine he's much more of a threat to Silva now than he was when they first met.
If you recall, Henderson actually fared pretty well against Silva during round one of their first fight. He got caught in a choke during round two, sure, but he was far from humiliated in the loss. The fact that he is now asking for a rematch, all these years later, tells me that he's probably come up with a way to expand on the areas in which he controlled Silva during their first fight.
Also, I'm sure Henderson saw the Silva/Sonnen fight last October as well. If so, he now knows that the secret to fighting Anderson Silva is just that—fight him. Henderson has the ability to defeat Silva, but only if he'll take the fight right to him. No waiting around to get caught up or mesmerized by Silva's taunts, dancing and Matrix-style attacks. He'll simply need to approach him, take him down, beat him up, wash, rinse and repeat.
Obviously, it wouldn't be quite as easy to pull off as it was for me to write it down, but you get the idea.
I, for one, would love to see this rematch, and I can't be the only one who thinks there might be a different result this time around.
1. Forrest Griffin
Sorry, I couldn't resist. OK, onto the real number one.
1. Jon "Bones" Jones
No huge surprise here, and there's really not much to say that hasn't already been said.
With the Georges St. Pierre match looking less and less likely, Jon "Bones" Jones is the latest in line for what is being labeled as a dream fight against Anderson Silva.
If anyone on this list could get the job done against "The Spider," it's got to be Jones. While he's still a very young fighter, Jones has already exhibited the skills to defeat some of the best fighters in the UFC. He's got excellent striking skills, a great wrestling base and a ground game to go along with it.
At the very least, Jones would certainly give Silva a run for his money, which is what we were looking for from the start.
Thanks for Reading!
Alright, readers, now it's your turn.
Take to the comments section below, and let me know what you think. Who did I miss? What did I forget about the people I included? Forget the five on my list, can anybody beat Silva? Speak your mind!
Until then, thanks for reading!