A Look Back at Anderson Silva's Record Winning Streak
Anderson Silva is the greatest of all time. The 38-year-old has already built his lasting legacy, and no knockout defeat will tarnish what he accomplished during his storied career.
Silva will return from his knockout loss to Chris Weidman at UFC 161 in December. He will challenge Weidman in one of the biggest rematches the sport has ever seen. The questions about Silva will be answered at that time. Until then, we can reflect on what he has already done.
Silva holds the UFC records for most title defenses and longest consecutive winning streak. Ten times he defended his gold and 16 straight times he had his hand raised. Staggering numbers in such an brutal sport.
MMA is unpredictable, but for more than half a decade, you could count on Silva getting his fist raised by the referee at the end of the fight.
Let's take a look back at the seven-year, 16-fight win streak of Anderson "The Spider" Silva.
2006: UFC Debut and Championship Win
UFC Debut vs. Chris Leben, June 28
Few fighters have made as noteworthy of a debut as Silva did in the summer of 2006.
Leben, who was riding a five-fight win streak into the bout, vowed to send Silva back to Japan where the "competition was easier." His granite chin would meet a feared striker that most in the states had never seen before.
Forty-nine seconds of brutality was all it took. Silva had arrived.
UFC Middleweight Championship vs. Rich Franklin, October 14
Rich Franklin was the No. 1-ranked middleweight in the world, and it was thought this would be an amazing contest between two great 185-pound fighters. Not so much.
Silva got a Thai clinch and proceeded to manhandle Franklin. He pummeled his body with knees. Very quickly, Franklin was out of breath and looking at the clock. Silva got the clinch again. A knee to the face was the beginning of the end.
John McCarthy pulled Silva from Franklin and a new era was born.
2007: Dominant Defenses
Travis Lutter, February 3
Travis Lutter won a shot at the middleweight championship by winning the fourth season of The Ultimate Fighter. Then he failed to make weight for the fight.
Lutter's jiu-jitsu was a big part of why he won the tournament, and he was going to put Silva's to the test.
In the first round, Lutter got on top and did a good job of baiting Silva on the ground to mount him. Things were different in the second. Silva's long limbs assisted him in locking up a triangle, and then he threw vicious elbows. The combination forced the tap in what would have been his first title defense.
First Defense vs. Nate Marquardt, July 7
Marquardt was to be Silva's greatest challenge. He didn't make it out of the first round.
Silva was not afraid of hitting the ground, as evidenced by him throwing a flying knee at Marquardt. The shift in the fight was a straight left from Silva. Marquardt got hurt, then Silva blasted him with a big shot on the ground. Marquardt turtled and the referee stopped the fight.
Second Defense vs. Rich Franklin, October 20
The second encounter was supposed to be a better fight. It made it to the second round, but Franklin was dominated again.
At the tail end of the first round, Silva caught Franklin. He buckled him and nearly finished. It was in the first round we first got to see a bit of Silva's showmanship, when he dodged several of Franklin's strikes with flair.
A hurt Franklin was beat up in the clinch again. A second consecutive title defense for the champion.
2008: Unification, Light Heavyweight and the First Signs of a Showman
UFC/PRIDE Unification, Third Defense vs. Dan Henderson, March 1
A trend in Silva's career was a new challenger being billed as his greatest test yet. Henderson was the PRIDE welterweight champion, and this would unify the two belts following the UFC's purchase of the organization.
Henderson took the first round.
Silva came back in the second. He landed key strikes, got on top on the ground and finished with a submission. Big ground-and-pound opened up the choke. It was Henderson's third loss via submission, all of which were to Nogueira black belts.
Light Heavyweight Debut vs. James Irvin, July 19
On the same night Fedor debuted for Affliction, the UFC put Silva on free TV. He would make a rare appearance at 205 pounds. Sixty-one seconds was how long his debut at the weight lasted.
He took most of the minute gauging Irvin. Then Irvin threw a kick that Silva caught, and then he countered with a blistering straight left. Irvin dropped. The fight could have been stopped there, but Silva was able to punish Irvin a bit more. The final blow was extra vicious.
Fourth Defense vs. Patrick Cote, October 25
Cote became the first man to drag Silva in to the third round. Unfortunately, he got injured during the third frame, which called a stop to the bout.
After two more bouts of Silva focusing strictly on the fight, we got another glimpse of the ultimate showman. He toyed with Cote. That's why it went in to the third. He didn't feel threatened. He threw new techniques around and wanted Cote to react to his motions.
2009: Fans Boo, Then Cheer
Fifth Defense vs. Thales Leites, April 18
This was the fight that started to turn some fans against Silva.
He was clearly the better fighter, and Leites wanted nothing to do with him on the feet. Silva had multiple opportunities to batter Leites both on the feet and on the ground. He didn't take it. He chose not to play with his jiu-jitsu.
Fans were not impressed. They wanted the brutal Silva they had grown accustomed to. Instead, they got a passive champion who put on a lackluster performance. The challenger deserved most of the blame, but the fans didn't see it that way.
Light Heavyweight vs. Forrest Griffin, August 8
Silva returned to the light heavyweight division in the summer of 2009. He was facing former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.
Griffin was still ranked in the top five of the division when they met. This was supposed to be someone who could really be a threat to the champion. His large frame and underrated ground game would pose interesting challenges. He would never get the chance.
Griffin was too slow. Silva made him look foolish. It was, perhaps, the most embarrassing knockout in UFC history.
Silva dropped Griffin the first time with a sneaky punch. The second time was one of the most picturesque knockdowns in UFC history after dodging several punches. The final knockout was a backing-away jab. Griffin was done. Silva put on one of his most stunning performances on that night.
It was three minuets and 23 seconds of pure brilliance.
2010: Near Catastrophe
Sixth Defense vs. Demian Maia, April 10
The fans began to turn on Silva during the Leites bout, and UFC 112 was the breaking point for most of those.
Once again, Silva was dominant. Maia had little to nothing for him. Silva chose to taunt and talk to Maia for the majority of the bout. At one point, Silva was warned for not engaging. Maia would do better in the final two rounds, but it was way out of reach by that point.
Silva retained, but the performance would turn him into a polarizing figure.
Seventh Defense vs. Chael Sonnen, August 7
Chael Sonnen wasn't supposed to challenge Silva. Not after Silva dominated decorated competitors like Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson and Forrest Griffin.
Silva entered the bout with injured ribs, but that wasn't known until after the bout.
Banged-up or not, Silva was dominated by Sonnen for four-and-a-half rounds—on the feet and on the ground. Sonnen shocked everyone. He was on the brink of a dominant decision win to knock off Silva. And then it happened.
One of the greatest moments in the sport's history. Silva threw up a desperation triangle that forced the tap. Silva retained his strap in spectacular fashion. It was the stuff legends are made of.
2011: The Front Kick Heard 'Round the World
Eighth Defense vs. Vitor Belfort, February 5
For the first time, we got to see Silva truly animated before the fight. He and Belfort had a history, and they exchanged words leading up to the fight. It caused the anticipation to elevate.
Belfort came out swinging for the home, run as always, and nearly caught Silva on the canvas.
Back on the feet, Silva was looking down and landed one of the most spectacular kicks in the sport's history, a common theme with Silva. Belfort's eyes rolled in the back of his head as he fell, Silva followed up with two precise strikes on the ground and claimed another title defense.
It also brought forth one of the best calls in UFC history, courtesy of Joe Rogan: "He front kicked him in the face!"
Ninth Defense vs. Yushin Okami, August 27
The UFC made its return to Brazil, where Silva was tapped to headline against Yushin Okami.
Silva would have the chance to erase the memory of a disqualification against Okami earlier in his career. The Rumble on the Rock loss ate at him for years. Silva would avenge the defeat.
Okami gave him space to strike. Silva used that to touch him up. At the end of the first round, Silva landed a headkick that stunned the challenger. Okami never forced the issue with Silva, and that made it all too easy for the champion.
Silva finished in the second round. A deceptive punch modeled after one Muhammad Ali would throw landed. The anchor punch. Okami hit the deck, and Silva finished up his work on the ground.
2012: Ending the Rivalry
Tenth Defense vs. Chael Sonnen, July 7
The 10th defense came at the hands of Silva's biggest rival.
Sonnen's trash talk made UFC 148 a can't-miss event. It was nearly two years in the making. The time finally came to settle the score. A healthy Silva against a big-time challenger.
Sonnen came forward immediately. He did what he said he would. Silva was on his back, and Sonnen took the first round cleanly. It looked like the first fight.
Silva defended the takedown well in the second, which forced Sonnen to stand. He tried a spinning backfist for some unknown reason, one that he was practicing backstage even, and missed. Silva threw an accurate knee to the sternum. Sonnen's wind left his body. Silva threw several unanswered punches that forced the referee to stop the bout.
One of the sport's biggest rivalries was finished.
16th Consecutive Victory vs. Stephan Bonnar, October 13
Silva's final victory to date came at the hands of Stephan Bonnar, the runner-up of the first season of The Ultimate Fighter.
The fight was put on short notice thanks to injuries to the UFC 153 event. Silva stepped up and Bonnar followed suit. Bonnar probably should have declined.
Silva made him look silly. He stood straight up against the fence, dodged strikes and played with Bonnar like a cat plays with a mouse. It was almost scary. You could feel something bad was about to happen to Bonnar.
The middleweight champion used a trip to put Bonnar off-balance. He came forward with a well-placed knee that landed perfectly. Bonnar dropped like a sack of potatoes. All his breath was gone from his lungs, and he had no defense for the follow-up shots. Silva was pulled from Bonnar.
His last victory was a good snapshot of everything we love about Silva. It won't be our final memory of him, but the performance will be replayed for some time. He is the greatest we have ever seen, and it is hard to imagine anyone topping his run of grandeur.