“He’s going to lose someday.” That’s what I keep telling myself, but the UFC Middleweight Champion refuses to prove me right.
I found myself uttering the same thing during round one of his UFC 148 rematch with Chael Sonnen, which looked exactly like the first 4.5 rounds of Silva-Sonnen I. But Silva would miraculously put the final nail in the coffin of his greatest rivalry in the second round, which looked like an entirely different fight from the first round.
It seems like an inconvenient truth for the dominant athlete: their glory days will come to an end before they’re ready to quit for good. Rarely do they leave at the height of their reign. Even those who do end up attempting a comeback somewhere down the line, only to realize that their best days are truly behind them.
Even the greatest of the great (the Jordan’s, Favre’s, etc.) overstayed their welcomes in their respective sports. And while they came and went without damaging their legacy, the rust was clearly visible.
Anderson Silva is widely regarded as the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time. He hasn’t actually been defeated in over seven years and is undefeated in the sport’s top organization. I could list his entire laundry list of accomplishments, but you get the picture.
But what really makes his resume so remarkable is the fact that he’s 37 and one of the oldest active fighters in the UFC. It seems crazy to say that an athlete in a sport so physical is still in their prime as they approach 40, but that’s exactly what Anderson’s doing.
It’s not just that he keeps winning, he keeps finishing fights in spectacular fashion. This past weekend was no different. Anderson’s first encounter with Chael at UFC 117 was the only time that he’s ever looked mortal in the Octagon, and in spite of Chael’s banned substances and Anderson’s rib injury, the question was still on the mind of MMA fans.
Was he finally on the decline?
But in the three fights since, Anderson’s responded with a resounding “no,” front kicking Vitor Belfort, embarrassing Yushin Okami (the last man to beat* Anderson), and finishing Chael once again in last Saturday’s rematch.
Once again, he’s cleaned out the middleweight division and once again there’s no debate as to who the best pound-for-pound fighter is. There’s no telling who his next opponent will be (we may get an idea tonight), but the uncertain feeling of the result has officially disappeared.
Silva is still the best and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.