Anderson Silva: An Appreciation of the UFC Middleweight Champion

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Anderson Silva: An Appreciation of the UFC Middleweight Champion

Despite what Chael Sonnen says, Anderson Silva is the most dominant champion the UFC has ever seen. Silva has defended his middleweight title a record nine times and put together a UFC record 14 straight victories in the process. 

As UFC president Dana White has said, Silva is the best mixed martial arts fighter ever. You could argue that fact, but in all honesty, it would be a pointless argument, going through the motions just to be contrary.

It’s been a week since Silva put his latest opponent, Yushin Okami, away at UFC 134 and with his latest title defense safely behind him, it’s time to take a look at the fight, however brief it was, that was Silva versus Okami.

Silva faced a great deal of pressure heading into this fight. He was fighting in Brazil for the first time in his storied UFC career and he was representing two international sponsors in Nike and Burger King, who surely wanted their name tied to a winner.

The pressure was on him to deliver for both the fans in his home country that had never seen him fight live and the sponsors that had put their capital behind him.

“The Spider” did not disappoint.

Photo: Zuffa LLC

It’s almost amusing to compare Silva’s appearance to that of his opponents. He’s tall and lanky and while he is fit, one would be hard pressed to call his build impressive or threatening.

Standing next to some of his recent opponents, such as Vitor Belfort or Chael Sonnen, the difference in physique is almost jarring, but as we have seen time and time again when Silva steps into the cage, looks can be deceiving.

A great deal of talk heading into the Silva versus Okami fight focused on the size and strength of the challenger, an alleged advantage that Silva negated with his style and skill.

During the first round the fighters didn’t engage a great deal, instead they circled, judging distances, picking up clues, looking for openings and feeling each other out.  When they did engage the fighters worked in close quarters against the cage, breaking apart near the end of the round.

When the second round began Silva was all movement and feints, using that activity to gather more information on his opponent and then almost exactly 30 seconds into the second round, Silva downshifted, dropping his hands to his side and slowing his pace.

Watching the replay of the fight a few times, it’s almost as if Silva used the first five-and-a-half minutes to gather as much information as possible on Okami. In that time, he analyzed every movement, every space, every tendency and at the 30-second mark of Round 2, the superior MMA mind of Silva kicked out a full fledged report on his opponent and told him, “You got this.”

Once Silva had all the information he needed, it seemed as if the fight was effectively over, Silva stood in front of his opponent, relaxed, hands at his sides, easily eluding the few punches Okami attempted to land.

Silva then reciprocated with a single punch of his own, a straight right that dropped Okami to his back. Silva refused to follow his opponent to the ground, allowing Okami to regain his feet and after a short time he once again sent Okami down, this time, with a right hook before following him to the ground and earning the TKO win.

The entire fight is something to behold. Silva truly is working on another plane and despite the protestations of Chael Sonnen; Silva is the best fighter in MMA.

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