Between Oct. 14, 2006 and July 5, 2013, there was not a man in the Ultimate Fighting Championships’ (UFC) Middle Weight Division that truly wanted to fight Anderson Silva.
A lot of people said they did, but not a single one left with a victory. Most left with their face beaten and battered and their egos severely damaged. Silva’s reign of terror over the division lasted 2,457 days, which is a UFC record. During his reign of terror, Silva displayed talent in all areas of combat: striking, grappling, wrestling, counter-striking and movement. Having all of these tools allowed prime Anderson Silva to cement himself as the greatest pound-for-pound fighter the world has ever seen.
Silva took the title from should-be UFC Hall of Famer Rich Franklin at UFC 64 in the first round. From there, Silva built one of the most dominant win resumes, with wins over current and future UFC Hall of Famers. Not only did Silva consistently win, he did so in impressive fashion. Silva’s striking and head movement were unparalleled in the UFC during his prime, and have yet to be matched in current times. And to top it off, Silva fought with a border line cocky style, often leaving his hands by his waist and simply dodging his opponent’s punches. At UFC 101 against Forrest Griffin, Silva sent a message to the world that he himself believed he could bring the matrix to life.
During the reign, Silva showed no mercy to his opponents, even when they were his own teammates and training partners. Silva met fellow Brazilian and teammate Victor Belfort at UFC 126 in February 2011 and turned it into a highlight for UFC history. Everyone knew that Silva was lethal with his hands, elbows and knees but he reminded the UFC and the world that his feet were just as dangerous.
Four years into his championship winning streak, people began to question whether Anderson Silva could handle a wrestling style fighter. In 2010, Chael Sonnen answered the UFC fans and analysts calls and began openly trash talking Silva. Sonnen, a former NCAA Wrestling All-American, began goading Silva into a fight by trashing all his training and UFC accomplishments. Silva and Sonnen met at UFC 117 in 2010. The fight lived up to the hype, going almost five complete rounds. However, bloodied and battered Silva was able to submit Silva and further submit his legacy.
Silva’s downfall came July 6, 2013 when he entered the octagon against a young and ready Chris Weidman. Silva’s cocky, hands-down fighting style finally got the best of him and Weidman landed a knockout blow ending Silva’s reign. Silva would receive a rematch opportunity but would break his leg in a freak accident against Weidman. However, by this time, many including myself believed Silva had done enough to cement his legacy.