Watching Anderson Silva fight is a study in the beauty of fighting.
Over the years, the Brazilian has made mince meat of his competition and made anything with his name on it a spectacle. UFC President Dana White has gone on record saying that Anderson Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. On Saturday, Silva will put his fictional pound-for-pound standing to the test against dangerous jiujitsu specialist Demian Maia. Most won’t be watching to see if Silva wins, rather how “The Spider” finishes off his opponent. The only competition for Silva today seems to be himself.
With that being said, is Anderson Silva the Michael Jordan of mixed martial arts? Heavy.com presents reasons for and against Silva.
Spectacular Finishes – Let’s make one thing clear. There is no better finisher in MMA today than “The Spider.” With the exception of his stinkers against Thales Leites and Patrick Cote (which were merely due his opponents unwillingness to engage), Silva has mashed the competition in ways that elicit whispers of “holy sh*t” from the mouths of pastors watching YouTube during bible study. If you look at his tenure in the UFC, what Silva has done to opponents is simply astounding. His debut saw him completely annihilate the durable Chris Leben in under a minute. The two demolitions of Rich Franklin were of the jaw dropping variety and proved that Silva was head and shoulders above the competition.
When he moved up to light heavyweight, he treated James Irvin like a red headed stepchild by catching a leg kick and dropping him with one punch. The most beautiful example of brutality was his recent obliteration of former Light Heavyweight champ Forrest Griffin. Griffin made Silva look like “Neo” in the Matrix as he slipped punches like bullets in slow motion. When the Brazilian was ready to finish off his opponent, he did so using a fade away jab that flattened Griffin in a manner that nobody has done to date. Beating opponents is one thing, completely obliterating fighters is something Silva does with regularity.
Effortless Weight Jump – Apparently, Silva got bored whipping middleweights and figured it would be fun to play with the big kids at 205. The results were no different than what he did to the 185 pounders. As a matter of fact, the effects may have been more devastating. Two fights, two first round stoppages. James Irvin lasted barely a minute before he tasted his first Brazilian knuckle sandwich and Griffin was toyed with for three minutes before Silva sent him running to his locker room in embarrassment like a child scolded for peeing in the bed. Even more challenges await him at 205 and there is little doubt that he would be the favorite in any fight he takes at this point.
Too Many Weapons – Anderson Silva may be the most dangerous fighter on the planet. His standup is unparalleled thanks to precision striking that would make a sniper blush and reflexes that leads one to believe he is a mind reading cheat whose supernatural abilities should disqualify him from MMA. Unfortunately for his opponents, standing up is how every fight begins. Ask Chris Leben and Forrest Griffin about that part.
If you are able to survive his superior standup and manage to get in the clinch, then you have to worry about his deadly Muay Thai knee strikes that smash through skulls with the impact of a wrecking ball. This is something that Rich Franklin knows all too well. If you are lucky enough to drag the fight to the ground, you will be forced to find out why Silva’s ground game isn’t too shabby either. Travis Lutter and Dan Henderson found out the hard way as the jiujitsu black belt proceeded to strangle the life out of them. You could challenge him to a dance competition, but judging by his post fight celebration, he’ll probably stomp your yard in that area as well. Basically what we’re saying is, good luck trying to find an advantage against this guy.
Weaker Resume – Is it that Anderson Silva has fought “nobodies” or made them look like nobodies? We’re definitely not calling Dan Henderson, Rich Franklin and Nate Marquardt “nobodies,” but it can be argued that Silva’s competition is lesser than those who are jockeying for position in the pound for pound standings. He is perhaps in the division with the least depth in the entire UFC. The Middleweight division features a plethora of good fighters, but the top five (Silva, Sonnen, Marquardt, Belfort, Maia) lack the strength of the Heavyweights (Lesnar, Carwin, Velasquez, Mir, Dos Santos), Light Heavyweights (Machida, Rua, Jackson, Evans, Griffin) and Welterweights (St. Pierre, Fitch, Koscheck, Alves, Daley). It also can be argued that it is deeper than the current Lightweight picture (Penn, Florian, Maynard, Edgar, Sanchez).
In the era of dominant champions which includes St. Pierre and Penn, it is getting increasingly difficult to find a fighter that stands any chance of beating Silva. Chael Sonnen stands to get the next shot at Silva should he win on Saturday. Not to knock Sonnen, who has been quite impressive as of late, but do you really give him much of a shot? Greater challenges await “The Spider” at 205, should he decide to go there.
He Has Been Defeated– It’s not like Anderson Silva has never been defeated before. His MMA record is 25-4. But you can toss aside the DQ loss to Yushin Okami because Silva basically beat himself by using an upkick while Okami was on his knees. So who has Silva lost to? He was trapped in a triangle choke by the rather average Daiju Takase in 2003. Takase was an unspectacular 4-7 at the time. Silva also lost his MMA debut to Luiz Azeredo via split decision.
But that was in 2000. His most recent loss was to another rather unspectacular fighter. Ryo Chonan pulled the proverbial rabbit out the hat when he caught Silva with a flying scissor heel hook at Pride Shockwave in 2004. Silva was dominating the entire fight when Chonan pulled off a move that you actually have to see to believe. So, there you have it. Silva has been beaten. Sure, it was six years ago since his last defeat. But if we’re going to nitpick about reasons why Anderson Silva isn’t the best fighter on the planet, we have to come up with something. Right?
Georges St Pierre – With Fedor Emelianenko not challenging the top heavyweights in the world who call their home the UFC, it’s rather difficult to argue that he should leapfrog the likes of Silva or St. Pierre as “Greatest Fighter On The Planet” – even if he is undefeated. BJ Penn is omitted from this debate thanks to his two losses to St. Pierre. This only leaves “Rush” as the only fighter worthy to stand next to Silva. St. Pierre has toppled the best in his division and hasn’t been in danger of losing since being knocked out by Matt Serra back in 2007. It can be argued that St. Pierre has the greater resume as he has toppled three current top ten P4P fighters (Penn, Fitch, Alves) and laid waste to the then-greatest UFC champion (Matt Hughes) on two occasions.
However, after last week’s dominant performance against Dan Hardy, critique showered the welterweight champ for his lack of finishing off opponents. Silva doesn’t have that problem. Also, St. Pierre last lost to Serra in 2007. Silva’s last loss by submission, KO or decision came in 2004. It’s a close race, but unless Silva looks unimpressive against Maia or he manages to lose, he still may be a nose ahead of St. Pierre.