It seems clear at this point that no single strategy is sufficient to beat Anderson Silva.
For a while there, we thought that high level wrestling might be enough to halt Silva’s record-breaking run. Then “The Spider” made it abundantly clear that wrestling alone is only effective if he happens to be recovering from double knee surgery or nursing a broken rib.
No, beating the 37-year-old Brazilian requires something a little extra special. It demands a potently eclectic mixture of skills, a high level combination of wrestling, jiu jitsu and striking—a durable chin would also come in handy for when things get a little hairy.
There are a few members of the UFC roster who have the skills to get the job done, and I doubt you will be surprised by who they are.
At the risk of hopping on the bandwagon, Chris Weidman has just the right skill-set to give Anderson a headache—both literally and figuratively.
However, I would simply be repeating myself if I elaborated on why the former All-American wrestler would pose problems for Silva. Read this article from earlier today if that particular matchup intrigues you.
The perennial pound-for-pound No. 2, Georges St-Pierre, has recently been discussed as a potential opponent for “The Spider” next year.
Though he wouldn’t be the favourite coming into the fight, the Canadian star has, at the risk of sounding like Liam Neeson, a particular set of skills that would make him a formidable opponent for the middleweight champion.
The problem for GSP is that he is considerably smaller than Anderson Silva.
However, this may not be as big an issue for him as it would be for some. The long-time welterweight king boasts the kind of athleticism that would allow him to overcome the size disparity.
Perhaps more importantly, GSP is arguably the most dominant wrestler in the sport—despite having no wrestling background. And as ever, this is the key piece of the puzzle.
If you can’t get the Brazilian to the floor, you might as well shake hands and depart the cage—even if GSP is a proficient striker in his own right.
Once on your back, the Montreal native possesses a smothering top game. Indeed, he has proven himself to be one of the sport’s best guard passers, slicing through the legendary guards of BJ Penn and Jon Fitch like a hot knife through butter.
If the pair do meet in the Summer of 2013, do not expect GSP to sit in Silva’s guard and play around with the Brazilian’s tricky bottom game. Rather, he is likely to utilise his passing skills to dodge that particular bullet.
It might not be pretty, but there’s no doubt that St-Pierre has the skill and athleticism to get the job done.
Perhaps the man with the best shot at dethroning the pound-for-pound king is Jon “Bones” Jones—the mention of his name here will come as no surprise to most of you. In fact, he may even enter the contest as favourite, given his size advantage.
Not only does the New Yorker have a terrific wrestling base, but he may be the one fighter on the roster who can compete with Silva’s striking.
While Jones may not be as technical as the Brazilian, his height and reach have thus far proven to be his biggest assets.
He might be able to keep “The Spider” at arm’s length while he searches for openings to initiate grappling exchanges—allow me to again stress that he might be able to.
Yet despite posing a whole host of physical issues for opponents on the feet, Jones would look to put Silva on his back and make use of his near-peerless ground-and-pound, mixing up punches with his razor-sharp elbows.
At this point, it will take a truly next generation mixed martial artist to stifle Silva’s talents. And the aforementioned athletes may be the only ones equipped to do it in the current mixed martial arts landscape.