Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar: Ranking the P4P King's Greatest Performances
It’s getting to the stage where we cease to be in awe of Anderson Silva’s ability to seemingly defy the natural laws. His routine, repetitive brilliance has become so utterly predictable that the sublime risks becoming mundane.
We all marvelled at the ease with which he disposed of Stephan Bonnar, waxing lyrical about his uncommon physical gifts.
With that said, where does Saturday night’s circus-like exhibition rank in relation to his other celebrated feats?
Without further delay, I present to you Anderson “The Spider” Silva’s top five UFC performances.
UFC 153: Anderson Silva vs Stephan Bonnar
Anderson Silva’s most recent masterpiece kicks things off for us.
At 37 years old, one has every right to expect a fighter’s reflexes to show signs of deteriorating. The type of fighter who ordinarily excels in his late thirties tends to be a dominant wrestler or a keen game-planner, in the mould of Randy Couture or Dan Henderson.
However, “The Spider” has formed a habit of both confounding and exceeding expectations. Saturday night’s main event was no exception.
Silva showed complete disdain for Bonnar’s striking, voluntarily pinning his back against the cage and inviting the TUF veteran to throw combinations without fear of reprisal—at least momentarily.
This not only demonstrated the Brazilian’s remarkable reflexes, but also his criminally underrated chin.
Silva soon got tired of toying with his prey and decided to go on the offensive, quickly ending Bonnar’s night with a crippling knee to the solar plexus.
It was a performance that was as elegant as it was devastating.
Ultimate Fight Night 5: Anderson Silva vs. Chris Leben
Anderson Silva’s first outing inside the Octagon remains one of his best.
Although he was new to many fans in the United States, the then-Cage Rage champion entered the UFC with a handsome reputation.
Unfortunately for Chris Leben, either no one told him about Silva’s gifts or his team simply failed to do its homework.
“The Crippler” has the kind of style that plays directly into the hands of the Brazilian, marching forward while launching salvos with a kind of maniacal contempt for the concept of defence.
Leben’s relatively elementary striking—at least by Silva’s standards—was exposed in swift order, as Silva painted the canvas red while using “The Crippler’s” face as his brush.
The soon-to-be middleweight champion’s imaginative mixture of strikes sent Leben crashing to the mat, utterly dazed and confused by what had just transpired.
Little did we know that this was to be the beginning of a record-breaking, as yet unhalted series of victories.
UFC 148: Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II
After being brutalized by Chael Sonnen at UFC 117, many were unsure of what to expect in the highly anticipated rematch at UFC 148.
For once there was some measure of doubt as to whether “The Spider” would end the evening as the UFC’s middleweight champion. Indeed, the first round appeared to vindicate those doubts.
Sonnen immediately took Silva down and dominated the opening round from bell to bell, mounting the champion and picking up where he left off two years prior—before he ended up in the infamous triangle choke, at least.
Clearly tired of being put on his back, Silva cut a determined figure going into round two.
Despite his best efforts, Sonnen could not drag the pound-for-pound king back down to the mat and he subsequently paid the price.
Capitalizing on an ill-advised attempted spinning backfist, Silva began to batter the challenger with a formidable fusillade of strikes, before ending Sonnen’s spirited resistance with a picture perfect knee to the solar plexus.
The victory was significant in and of itself, but the flair with which it was achieved made it all the more special.
UFC 101: Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin
It doubtless comes as no surprise that Anderson Silva’s bout with Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 makes an appearance on this list.
Many of you will probably question why it wasn’t placed at the top of the pile. In truth, I wouldn’t argue with those of you who think it deserves to be at this list's summit.
Silva’s second outing at light heavyweight was expected to be a significant challenge, as he faced an opponent who dwarfed him physically.
Things didn’t unfold quite as anticipated.
There were no moments of crisis or even mild discomfort for the part-time 205-pounder in this fight. Silva showed the former light heavyweight champion no respect, standing in the centre of the Octagon with his hands by his side.
Despite “The Spider’s” total disregard for traditional defence, Griffin was unable to mount any sort of attack. Silva dodged his opponent's strikes as though he were viewing the world in slow motion.
Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the kind of character one would expect to see in Tekken or Street Fighter, the Brazilian evaded the original TUF winner’s sluggish punches and put him on his backside with a single shot.
He then attempted to help his fallen foe back to his feet, before repeating the defensive demonstration and this time knocking out Griffin with a ridiculously stiff jab that carried more power than most light heavyweights can generate in a hook.
The display was borderline supernatural, igniting almost as many conversations on metaphysics as it did on fighting.
UFC 77: Anderson Silva vs. Rich Franklin II
Before I go any further, let me state for the record that both of Anderson Silva’s performances against Rich Franklin deserve to be on this list. However, I decided to only include their rematch in order to make room for the fights that were covered earlier.
The main reasons why I chose the rematch over their first encounter is because Franklin came much better prepared second time around, while the combination that finished the fight is amongst the most beautiful one is ever likely to witness.
Bolstered by a partisan Cincinnati crowd, Rich Franklin appeared utterly determined to not disappoint those in attendance.
Yet despite the former middleweight champion’s best efforts, he could do little to stifle Silva’s unsurpassed offensive game. The sheer variety with which he was threatened would have been enough to reduce most men to a quivering wreck.
On this particular night, Anderson Silva taught the former high school teacher a lesson—one could argue that he taught him the entire syllabus over the course of the eight minute masterclass.
Many things make this fight special, but the sequence of strikes that ended Franklin’s evening is what most remember.
Midway through the second round, Silva backed the challenger up against the cage and unleashed a combination of strikes to the head, body and legs that overwhelmed Franklin.
It was violently poetic, boasting the kind of barbaric beauty we so rarely get the pleasure of seeing. No matter what happens to the sport in future, this performance will remain timeless.