Tag Archives: Anderson Silva

Anderson Silva, How Could I Have Doubted Thee?

I take it all back. Anything I may have ever said to suggest that Anderson Silva is not the world’s pound-for-pound best fighter, I was wrong. I apologize. Anderson Silva, thou art an MMA god, and I shall put no other fighters before thee.

Okay, maybe I’m overreacting, but not by much. The way Silva not just defeated but dismantled Dan Henderson, who is himself unquestionably a top middleweight (and light heavyweight, while we’re at it), I was awed. Some of you may recall that I picked Henderson to win that fight. I thought that Henderson’s ability to take a punch, combined with his ability to close the distance and use the body lock to get opponents to the mat where he could control them, would allow him to grind out a victory. At the end of round one, it looked as though Hendo would do precisely that. But in the second, Silva decided enough was enough.

First Silva rocked Henderson on the feet, which is no small task, then dominated and submitted him on the mat. By the way, do you know how many fights Henderson lost by submission before this one? Two. One against each of the Nogueira brothers, including the one who is now UFC heavyweight champion. Does that help put it in perspective?

Watching Silva on Saturday night, I knew I was seeing something special. Since I had picked Henderson and since the egotistical part of my brain (which is most of it) always roots for the guys I’ve picked so I can brag about what an MMA genius I am, I should have been disappointed when Silva took over the fight. But I wasn’t. It was too beautiful, too impressive for me to even remember my picks right then. If you had asked me at the exact moment that Silva was choking Henderson I might have told you that only an idiot would pick against him.

Truly, I am that idiot, for I doubted Anderson Silva.

The question now is, what’s next? The middleweight division is essentially cleaned out, and though some are already clamoring for Silva to go down in weight to face Georges St. Pierre, I have to tell you I don’t see it. Silva is incredibly lean at middleweight, I don’t know if he can shed another fifteen pounds. Perhaps a catch weight bout at 177.5 pounds is the answer, assuming St. Pierre beats Serra.

All I can say for sure right now is that if any of you out there still have someone other than Anderson Silva at the top of your pound-for-pound list, you’re refusing to face reality. Forget Fedor, who would rather pick up a cheap paycheck than get tested in the ring, Silva is the man. We’re witnessing history just watching him. Stop arguing and enjoy it.

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Filed under Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, MMA, Sports, UFC

Fighter of the Year: Is There Really Any Debate?

Now that 2007 has closed its books, a number of MMA websites have put out their ‘Best of the Year’ awards and top ten lists. One of the more interesting discussions happening right now is over who deserves to be called Fighter of the Year for 2007. Sherdog.com apparently thinks that honor belongs to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, and Sam Caplan over at Five Ounces of Pain concurs. Personally, I find this baffling. Not because I don’t think “Rampage” had a good year, but because I think it’s pretty obvious who had an even better one: Anderson Silva.

While Jackson’s accomplishments (most notably upsetting Chuck Liddell for the UFC light heavyweight title) may have been more visible, Silva’s were more impressive. Not that there aren’t similarities, but when compared head to head there’s no doubt in my mind that Silva had the tougher and more dominant year:

– Both men fought three times and won all three in 2007. Jackson started by beating professional heavy bag Marvin Eastman for his entrance into the UFC, while Silva dismantled TUF winner Travis Lutter. While neither of those guys are world beaters, Lutter is certainly the more dangerous and more legitimate opponent, no question.

Advantage: Silva

– Both men defended their world titles against former champs in impressive fashion. Silva came into the year with the middleweight strap and none of his three opponents even got close enough to smell the leather. Jackson surprised Liddell in his second fight of the year and then retained the title against former Pride champ Dan Henderson.

Silva beat ex-champ Rich Franklin in brutal fashion, again, as well as former King of Pancrase Nathan Marquardt. Both, essentially, beat two championship-caliber opponents in ’07, but when Jackson fought Henderson he was really fighting a natural middleweight, as evidenced by Henderson’s move down since that fight. Even then, he won via decision. Silva absolutely destroyed everyone he faced, and looked leaps and bounds ahead of them in the process.

Advantage: Silva

– Both entered the UFC from other organizations and hit the ground running. Silva did so in 2006 and Rampage just this past year, but the difference is that Silva has been facing nothing but top competition the last few years and has yet to be taken past the second round in the UFC. “Rampage” was coming off two decision victories over Matt Lindland (a middleweight) and Dong Sik Yoon (a judo fighter with a losing record) and a TKO over Hirotaka Tokoi (who?). I realize it’s slightly unfair to compare their acheivements the previous year for the purposes of this discussion, but the point is that Silva has had to climb a tougher ladder to get to this point, while “Rampage” was at least partially propelled into a quick title shot by his obvious marketability.

Advantage: Silva

All this isn’t to say that Jackson didn’t also have a banner year. Winning a world title and defending it against someone like Dan Henderson gives him plenty to put on his Christmas cards. But I have the sneaking suspicion that Silva is getting overlooked here because he isn’t as vocal or as visible in the MMA world as “Rampage” (who is?), and because of language barriers his interaction with the American media is limited.

Silva’s fights this past year, particularly his last bout with Franklin, verge on artistry. He’s a joy to watch, to put it simply. His biggest problem at the moment is a lack of credible opponents. But that is, as Marlowe Stanfield would say, one of them good problems.

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Filed under Anderson Silva, MMA, Quinton Jackson, Sports, UFC

Silva-Henderson Fight Could Be Career-Defining For Both Men

In this age of interim titles and overhyped fights, it’s easy to forget about the very real title fight down the road. I speak now, of course, of Anderson Silva and Dan Henderson. It may also be known as the fight Henderson should have taken immediately upon coming to the UFC, but better late than never.

I don’t know what Dana White said to Henderson to convince him to finally move back down to middleweight and take this fight. I’m guessing that the conversation involved a check with a lot of zeros on it, for one thing, and maybe a reminder of how he couldn’t control the bigger “Rampage” Jackson on the mat when the two fought for the light heavyweight title.

Whatever it took, White got his wish. Henderson-Silva is the match that makes sense for both fighters. The only questions is, if Silva wins, what happens next?

I ask that for two reasons. One, Henderson is 37. He’s had a great career as an MMA fighter and before that as a prolific amateur wrestler. The guy has won so many titles and tournaments that when I asked him once to list for me some of his accomplishments in advance of an IFL announcement, he told me he was a “three or four-time National Greco-Roman champion.” Three or four? He just smiled and shrugged. I guess at some point you stop counting and they all blend together.

My point here is that if Henderson can’t beat the 205-pound champ and can’t beat the 185-pound champ, what’s left? He doesn’t want to hang around and be a gatekeeper, or at least I don’t want him to do that. And at his age he might be better off hanging up the gloves and concentrating on running his gym.

Then again, if he makes the move down in weight and wins the title, it could be a reverse Randy Couture scenario.

My second question, though, is what happens with Anderson Silva if he wins? He’ll have defeated just about everybody worth punching in the UFC’s anemic middleweight division, with no obvious challenger waiting in the wings. What will the UFC do with him then? Will Anderson Silva weep when he sees there are no more people to beat up?

Knowing the UFC, they’ll probably start pressuring other fighters to move to middleweight (paging, “Count” Bisping), but that does not necessarily mean they’ll have any credible contenders at the end of the day. Henderson has by the far the best shot, not only because of his skill and experience level, but because his style matches up well against Silva’s.

If Silva has trouble with anyone, it’s wrestlers. His takedown defense is the only weak part of his game, and Henderson doesn’t mind taking a punch on the way in to get it.

As of right now, the Silva-Henderson fight stands in the distance as a fork in the road for the UFC’s middleweight division. The future of the weight class — as well as the future of several fighters as of yet unnamed — will depend on what happens in that bout. Either way, when it’s all over we’ll finally have some (M)answers.

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Filed under Anderson Silva, Dan Henderson, MMA, Sports, UFC