Hello there! Raise your hand if you think that Anderson Silva has completely finished the Middleweight division. Even though I can't see anyone's hands, I would imagine that you believe it to be true. Well, I'm here to say otherwise.
As a disclaimer, I must say that Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okami will not be on this list, seeing as they were both one-sided fights within the past year. Anyway, continue to the rest of the article!
The last time Demian Maia fought Anderson Silva, it was an embarrassment to the sport. However, Maia has improved immensely from a one-dimensional submission artist to now being a pretty solid striker.
His wrestling has improved, his boxing has gotten significantly better, and his entire game has adjusted. He's in better physical shape on fight night and has come to understand Mixed Martial Arts as a whole more completely.
That being said, he stands no chance. He is a good fighter, and probably quite underrated, no doubt. But the snowball in hell has a better chance of victory than Demian Maia. He isn't going to submit Silva, seeing as he's a black belt. In a grappling contest, Maia should win, absolutely. But this is MMA. His striking is improved but he will do nothing against literally the best striker in the sport.
I see this going kind of like the last one, but this time, Anderson puts a stamp on his victory.
Final Verdict: Silva by second-round TKO
Michael Bisping is one of the most underrated middleweights in the UFC. Most people pick against him because of his attitude, but in actuality, he's one of the best overall guys around. He's a big 185 and he has a very technical striking game. His takedown defense is excellent, and he's shown a lot of talent.
Really, he only has one legitimate loss on his record, which would be when Dan Henderson dropped the H-bomb on him at UFC 100. The other two losses on his 22-3 record were extremely debatable decisions.
He showed his striking skill again when he picked apart Jason Mayhem Miller at TUF 14 Finale this past weekend.
But once again, despite showing a good striking game, it's nothing compared to Silva. No one will be able to out-strike "The Spider" and Bisping is no exception. I see Silva taking advantage of this fact and using his perfect head movement to pick "The Count" apart.
While he will definitely win the striking battle, Michael Bisping is notoriously difficult to knock out. I see this fight going the distance.
Final Verdict: Anderson Silva by Unanimous Decision (50-45)
Brian Stann has been on a tear through the middleweight division since he lost to Phil Davis. His striking and insane punching power has been just about unstoppable for everyone he's faced.
However, he ran into a wall named Chael Sonnen a while back, and was utterly dominated by the wrestling expert. He tried his utmost, but he was smothered. He definitely wouldn't have this problem with a fighter like Anderson Silva, who rarely wishes a fight to go to the ground, especially since it's unlikely he would get a submission on Stann.
But as is the case with the striker-heavy division, Anderson Silva would almost assuredly have little trouble with a fighter like Stann, who relies almost purely on his strikes to win fights. Even if he did catch Anderson with one of his haymakers, Silva has shown to be extremely difficult to knock out. His chin is probably the most underrated aspect of his game. Hell, he's hardly ever bled in his career.
I see Silva using his technical striking prowess and doing damage to Stann early and often. After a while, Brian will get frustrated and start swinging to get the knockout. He will tire himself out and give Silva the opportunity to finish.
Final Verdict: Silva by fourth-round knockout
As a former All-American and NCAA champion wrestler at Oklahoma State University, you know what the strength of his game is. It's to get the fight to the ground and punish you with what is probably the most brutal ground and pound in the sport today. Just look at his arms and fists. He can do damage. Just ask Chris Leben.
After losing to Matt Hamill via head kick at UFC 96, he decided to leave the light-heavyweight division and move to Middleweight. He's been dominant to say the least, with his only loss coming against Yushin Okami at UFC Live: Jones vs. Matyushenko (feels so much longer ago than it really is). He's got the same muscle mass he did at 205, but less fat. It's really quite amazing.
Not to mention he's picked up his striking to become a much more well-rounded fighter than before. Good thing he hasn't tried pulling a Koscheck and tried to out-strike his opponents. He's fighting smart, which is a very good thing if he gets a title shot.
If he were to get the aforementioned shot, he would be going against the most dominant UFC fighter of all time. And I firmly believe he would win. Takedown defense has never really been Anderson's strong point. He was taken down repeatedly and was dominated for four and a half rounds against Chael Sonnen. Yes, it's true that almost no one is better with takedowns and his top control is second to none.
But Mark Munoz is without a doubt among the very best at both. He's constantly active and he never gives his opponents time to work against him, when he gets on top. It's also hard to think when he's dropping bombs on your face constantly. It doesn't matter how good his striking is, since odds are that Silva will only be standing for the first 20 seconds of each round.
Final Verdict: Munoz by Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-45, 50-44)
Random fact: Mark Munoz is Anderson's wrestling trainer. I find that somewhat ironic.
This former real estate agent (and political hopeful) is the only man to ever really give Silva a challenge since he has come to the UFC. And a challenge it was. He simply dominated him for 22 minutes, landing hundreds of punches and maintaining the dominant position almost constantly.
Despite that, Silva remained resilient, inevitably locking in an armbar/triangle submission with two minutes left in the fifth round. It was arguably the greatest comeback in UFC history.
Yes, Silva did technically win. That's obvious. Chael Sonnen was put into a hybrid submission hold and tapped out. However, Sonnen dominated that fight, and his jiu-jitsu defense has improved, as shown against Brian Stann.
He is arguably the biggest, strongest middleweight presently in the UFC, his cardio has no limits, and he's a relentless fighter. I just don't see Silva winning a rematch, if it were to happen. This is another fight where the striking doesn't really matter. I think Sonnen's offense will beat Silva's defense.
Final Verdict: Chael Sonnen by Unanimous Decision (50-44, 50-43, 50-45)
So as it stands, only two men stand a real chance at beating Anderson Silva. Those two men will fight each other in January on UFC on Fox 2. The winner will be getting the title shot against "The Spider."
If you have any disagreements, please let me know in the comment section below. Also, remember to like and share it on Facebook and Twitter! I thank you for reading my article and for helping support the MMA community. I will be doing an article like this for every weight class, so remember to check back with the Bleacher Report UFC and MMA sections regularly!