The Best Ever

5 Jul

      Anyone who follows mixed martial arts knows this weekend will see one of the most anticipated match-ups the sport has ever witnessed as UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva once again defends his title against Chael Sonnen. Their first battle, two years ago, was considered a classic as Sonnen used his world class wrestling skills to take down and control Silva for four and a half rounds. The champion, who had dominated all his previous opponents in the UFC and had never come close to even being pushed in a fight, proved his metal by pulling off a submission from his back in the last two minutes of the bout in order to save his title.
      Though it wouldn’t completely shock me if Sonnen scored an upset Saturday given his strong performance in their first match, the pick here has to be Silva. His history has been to turn in spectacular performances in fights where he is really motivated. After taking severe criticism for a lackluster showing against Thales Leites in 2009, Silva answered his critics by giving one of the most incredible athletic displays I’ve ever witnessed in person when he took just two minutes to obliterate Forrest Griffin in his next bout (he knocked out Griffin while moving backwards with just a jab, something that you’re simply not supposed to be able to do). Then, in 2011, in his all-Brazilian grudge match with Vitor Belfort, Silva pulled off a UFC first by knocking out his challenger with a front kick to the face in the opening round. Given that Sonnen’s trash talk has sparked the normally subdued Silva to say he will break all the challenger’s teeth, break both his arms and both his legs, I’m guessing the champion is motivated.
      Of course, that can cut both ways. It’s possible Silva may be so angry, he loses his composure and makes some stupid mistakes. But win or lose, Silva’s legacy as the greatest fighter in the history of MMA is secure.
      As I wrote for Black Belt Magazine back in 2009 after the Griffin fight, Silva’s skills are the epitome of what most people dream about when they enter the martial arts. He actualizes the ideal of one strike knockouts and effortless technique while usually managing to take little punishment in return. He possesses the ability that most people aspire to when they first see martial arts performed in the movies: he can end a fight with a single blow from either hand or either foot. And if it goes to the ground, he can beat you there with ease as well. He is, simply put, the best the sport has ever seen.

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