Anderson Silva is not only the UFC’s most dominant middleweight, but also widely regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist ever. His seven-year reign as the 185-pound champ is the longest in UFC history.
Silva remains undefeated in his UFC tenure and has amassed a cavalcade of promotional records, including most consecutive wins (16), most finishes (14), highest significant strike accuracy (67.8 percent) and most knockdowns landed (17). He is also tied with Joe Lauzon for most post-fight bonuses (12).
Truthfully, there is little left for “The Spider” to do that he hasn’t already accomplished. Silva is currently set for a middleweight showdown with No. 1 contender Chris Weidman at UFC 162. There is also the continuing talks of a possible superfight with light heavyweight champ Jon Jones.
While losses in either of those fights may slightly tarnish Silva’s sterling image, there have been plenty of moments in The Spider’s UFC career that have already cemented him as the best of all time.
1. Silva already had a great deal of success fighting overseas in otherMMA promotions, racking up 17 career victories.
The Spider won both the Shooto middleweight (168 pounds) and Cage Rage World Middleweight titles, however, he was still unknown to most MMA fans when he made his way to the UFC.
In his debut, Silva took on the hard-hitting Chris Leben at UFC Ultimate Fight Night 5. At the time, Leben was undefeated in his UFC career and had never been knocked out.
In the pre-fight interview, Leben said of Silva, “Once he gets in there with me and I knock him out, he may want to go back to Japan or somewhere where the competition is a little bit easier.”
Silva made “The Crippler” eat those words, knocking him out cold with punches and knees only 49 seconds into the first round. He landed 17 of 20 significant strikes, while Leben connected with only one punch.
The brutal finish earned Silva his first Knockout of the Night bonus and showed that the Brazilian was more than just hype.
2. In only his second fight with the UFC, Silva found himself challenging Rich Franklin for the middleweight strap.
Franklin defended the title twice before running head long into the proverbial brick wall. At the time, “Ace” was a very dominant middleweight and many believed he would be the stiffest test of Silva’s career.
However, in their first meeting at UFC 64, Franklin represented only a small speed bump on Silva’s road to MMA glory. The Spider lit up Franklin with pinpoint accuracy, landing 31 of 36 strikes (86 percent).
Franklin was never able to get into a rhythm, winging punches and kicks at his much faster opponent. Silva then caught him in a tight Thai clinch and that was all she wrote. The Spider nailed him with some particularly vicious knees to the body and head that put an end to Ace’s night at 2:59 of the first round.
A year later, Franklin looked to get redemption against Silva at UFC 77, however, he only fared slightly better than the first go-round. Ace made it to Round 2, but was knocked out again with Silva’s patented knees.
With this third-title defense, Silva became the most successful middleweight champ in UFC history. Both finishes earned him Knockout of the Night bonuses.
3. Dan Henderson entered the UFC as the first fighter in an MMA promotion to hold two belts in two different weight classes (middleweight and welterweight). The fight was set to unify the Pride and UFC titles.
Henderson, an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler, was able to take Silva down in Round 1 and then use his ground-and-pound to win the round. “Hendo” connected on 41 of 51 total strikes.
However, things did not go as swimmingly for Henderson in Round 2. He shot for two takedowns, but was unsuccessful in getting Silva to the mat.
The Spider picked Henderson apart on the feet, landing a hard knee midway through the round that dropped him. Silva swarmed, transitioned to the back and sunk in a tight rear-naked choke. Henderson tapped with only 10 ticks left in the round.
This marked only the third time Henderson had ever been submitted in his career. Ironically, Henderson’s other two submission losses were to Silva’s Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) coaches, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira.
Silva was awarded both Fight of the Night and Submission of the Night honors.
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