Posted 07/05/2013 by admin in Untethered MMA
 
 

Anderson Silva’s 18 Greatest Fights As Chosen By Mike Fagan

by Mike Fagan, July 5th, 2013

vs. Luiz Azeredo – Mecca 1 – May 27, 2000

Anderson Silva debuted in 1997 for something called Brazilian Freestyle Circuit, but the available video is not worth commenting on. Instead, we begin with the first loss in Silva’s career against Luiz Azeredo.

Anderson was still under construction at this point, but a lot of the foundation is there. His striking is wilder and loopier, but accurate. He clowns Azeredo in the second round (2 x 10 minutes), goading him to throw a strike. His jiu-jitsu game is rudimentary, but his tendency to wrap a guy up and limit damage shines through clearly.

The most striking difference between Anderson Then and Anderson Now is how quickly he came out to fight. It’s hard to gather through the Portuguese, but it seems like Azeredo repped Team Macaco and this was a rivalry fight with Silva’s Chute Boxe. The crowd was hot for this, and Silva – in his first fight in 3 years – seemed to play off that.

Unfortunately, while Anderson dominated this fight at distance, he allowed Azeredo to control him on the ground. He avoided most of the damage, but failed to inflict enough standing to earn the decision.

vs. Hayato “Mach” Sakurai – Shooto 7 – August 26, 2011

“Mach” Sakurai used to be a thing. He now fights once a year on New Year’s Eve, but back in the day he was 18-0-2 and Shooto champ at a weight yet to be ruled by Matt Hughes.

Silva again shows passivity off his back, but provided enough offense for a decision victory.

One interesting note: Silva takes Sakurai’s back at one point, and starts raining down strikes. Sakurai’s head busts open, and the referee calls time for a doctor check AS ANDERSON IS COCKING ANOTHER PUNCH. He doesn’t split the fighters up, either. Instead, the doctor wipes blood off Sakurai’s face with Anderson still attached to his back. Bizarre.

vs. Alex Stiebling – Pride 21 – June 23, 2002

There’s nothing particularly interesting about this fight outside of Silva debuting in Pride. Who else debuted in Pride on this show? Fedor Emelianenko.

vs. Daiju Takase – Pride 26 – June 8, 2003

I’ve watched this fight three or four times, and I still refuse to believe it happened. Silva, again, remains passive on his back, but it’s still hard to reconcile him actually losing to Daiju Takase.

Takase was 4-7-1 heading into this bout. He beat Emmanuel Yarborough in his debut. He would go on to defeat Carlos Newton in 2004, but Takase’s MMA record stands at 11-13-1 today without a lot of impressive names on his card.

Silva falls into a triangle amidst a scramble that leads to the finish, but Takase controlled the entire bout. MMA has seen its share of “Holy Shit!” upsets, but I don’t think a single fight can match this one for its combination of also-ran and all-time great.

vs. Ryo Chonan – Pride Shockwave 2004 – December 31, 2004

Then, 18 months later, this happens.

Some will tell you – including Mauro Ranallo and Bas Rutten on the call – that Chonan was on his way to winning a decision anyway. They’re dumb. Anderson controlled this fight, hence Chonan’s hail mary submission attempt.

Again, it’s hard to reconcile the result. Chonan has a better MMA career than Takase, but that still leaves him in the also-ran pile. That Silva has erased any talk of either of these fights in the “greatest of all time” conversation speaks to the dominance of his UFC run.

Two notes:

1. This is the first fight on this list where Anderson fights without a goatee.

2. The referee issued Silva a yellow card at some point for passivity on the ground. This is why yellow cards sucked.

vs. Yushin Okami – Rumble on the Rock 8 – January 20, 2006

Notable as the last loss in Anderson’s career. Also notable as a great example for the legalization of strikes to the head of a “grounded” opponent.

vs. Tony Fryklund – Cage Rage 16 – April 22, 2006

Fryklund is little more than a punching bag with legs in this one, and it works to our benefit. The fight ends when Anderson takes his right arm, throws it across his body, and then whips up his elbow into Fryklund’s face, ending the fight instantly. These are the moments we watch for.

vs. Chris Leben – UFC Ultimate Fight Night 5 – June 28, 2006

Silva found himself another walking punching bag, this time in his UFC debut. Shockingly, Leben entered the fight 15-1, and only a 2-1 underdog at fight time. Silva landed 17 strikes and 2 knockdowns, in the first of many embarrassed UFC opponents. I wish I could GIF Josh Koschecks reaction.

Notes:

1. Xbox 360 sponsored the fight clock. Silva’s UFC dominance has spanned that console’s lifespan.

2. Mike Goldberg hyping Chris Leben: “Fair or not, many actually remember Chris Leben beating down a door. I will tell you this, Leben is for real. And doors…and opponents…better beware.”

3. Anderson was 31 at the time of his UFC debut.

vs. Rich Franklin – UFC 64 – October 14, 2006

Sharp gambling site Pinnacle listed Franklin as a -194 favorite (at one point, anyway; getting my info from an old Sherdog.net thread). That is the last time Silva entered a fight as an underdog.

Franklin provided no answer for Silva’s Thai clinch. Silva pounded the body with knees. When Franklin protected the body, Silva targeted the head. It wasn’t long until one of those head shots caught Franklin clean, leading to the finishing sequence.

One of my favorite Goldbergisms of all time comes via Randy Couture’s commentary in this fight: “Both guys are southpaws. I wonder how much they actually face southpaws in a real fight.” About as often as any other fighter faces a southpaw, Randy.

vs. Dan Henderson – UFC 82 – March 1, 2008

This is where the Great Wrestling Hope began. Silva, even to this day, has only fought 2 high-quality wrestlers in his career: Henderson and Chael Sonnen. And while it may take a fighter with tremendous wrestling to eventually defeat Silva, said fighter also needs a load of skills.

Henderson showed promise early, winning the first round after a takedown and top control. That success dissipated in the second, and Silva caught a frustrated Henderson standing, eventually leading to Hendo doing his Jabba the Hutt death face courtesy of a rear-naked choke.

Notes:

1. This was my first live UFC event.

2. Silva throws a front face kick around the 90 second mark.

vs. James Irvin – UFC Fight Night: Silva vs. Irvin – July 19, 2008

Irvin: “I’m not going to let him make a highlight reel out of me.” Oops.

This is Anderson’s debut at light heavyweight.

vs. Forrest Griffin – UFC 101 – August 8, 2009

Fans started turning on Anderson following bizarre performances against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites. This, briefly, put those fights out of memory.

Silva returned to light heavyweight; this time fighting former world champion Forrest Griffin. In what maybe the most dominating performance in UFC history, Silva needed only 13 strikes to knock Forrest down 3 times. The result was so humiliating, Griffin took off running.

vs. Demian Maia – UFC 112 – April 10, 2010

I’m not sure what people will remember most about this card: Frankie Edgar’s (undeserved) upset of B.J. Penn, or Anderson Silva’s behavior during this fight.

Silva claims Maia disrespected him leading up to the fight. Silva responds, by clowning Maia for the first 2.5 rounds of the fight. Pounding the mat, dropping his hands, slapping his face, yelling at Maia, and all the while picking his spots. He slows down in the last half of the fight – it took place outdoors in the humid Abu Dhabi air. It’s a hard fight to watch in full, but I stand by the claim that the second round is one of the most interesting and entertaining of Silva’s career.

vs. Chael Sonnen – UFC 117 – August 7, 2010

This is the fight that will define Anderson Silva’s career. Following the Maia debacle, Sonnen used the public’s turning tide on Anderson to hype himself as the man to remove him from the UFC. This set the stage for a HOT Oakland crowd.

The story needs few words. Anderson’s injured rib. Four-plus rounds of Sonnen dominance. A triangle choke. The tap with 110 seconds remaining.

Note: This fight was sponsored by PIRANHA 3-D.

vs. Vitor Belfort – UFC 126 – February 5, 2011

If the Sonnen fight helped repair Anderson’s image, this is the fight that helped turn things back around. Rogan noted early on that “People just don’t like [Anderson].” Three minutes later, Anderson throws a front kick that makes Vitor’s head do a JFK. Nothing will win fans more than brutal knockouts.

vs. Yushin Okami – UFC 134 – August 27, 2011

Anderson avenges the last loss on his ledge in his first fight in Brazil under the UFC banner.

Note: This fight was sponsored by SHARK NIGHT 3-D.

vs. Chael Sonnen – UFC 148 – July 7, 2012

Anderson answered whatever doubts that were left hanging after UFC 117. The first round could have been any one of the first four from the first fight. Sonnen took Silva down within seconds of the opening bell, and controlled him there.

But like the Henderson fight, Anderson kept the fight standing long enough to frustrate Sonnen into making a mistake. This time, the mistake came in the form of an ill-advised spinning backfist. Chael spun himself onto the mat and Anderson drove a knee into his sternum. It wasn’t long before the finish.

vs. Stephan Bonnar – UFC 153 – October 15, 2012

It’s the last match to-date. It’s potentially the last fight he leaves as the UFC middleweight champion. And maybe his last fight in Brazil.

Here’s how talented Anderson Silva is. He purposely put himself up against the fence, flat-footed, and encouraged Bonnar to attack while keeping his own hands down. Here’s how Mike Goldberg called the action:

“Bonnar’s gotta be careful here.”

Bonnar, standing in front of a man with his back up against the fence, is the one that needs to be careful. Good grief.

 

 

 


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