- Posted: 6:06 PM, June 30, 2012
He was won 14 straight UFC fights and defended his UFC middlweight title nine times – both records. Silva, a Muay Thai kickboxing master and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, has never lost in the UFC and rarely even been challenged.
Silva (31-4, 18 KOs) has not faced defeat since 2006 and that was by disqualification. You have to go back to Dec. 31, 2004 to find his last true loss, to Ryo Chonan in Japan.
Next weekend, at UFC 148 on July 7 in Las Vegas, Silva will face one of his toughest challenges yet, a rematch with Chael Sonnen, who won the first four rounds in their first meeting until Silva submitted him with a triangle choke at the 3:10 mark of the fifth.
At 37 years old, Silva could be looking at one of his last fights at the MGM Grand next Saturday. With probably few big money matchups left for the Sao Paolo, Brazil native, let’s take a look back at his top five UFC performances heading into the rematch with Sonnen.
Getty Images5. Yushin Okami (UFC 134 – Aug. 27, 2011)
TKO (punches) at 2:04 of second round
The record books say that Silva’s last loss came to Okami on Jan. 20, 2006 at Rumble on the Rock 8 in Hawaii – six months before Silva entered the UFC. But that defeat was via disqualification. Silva kicked a kneeling Okami in the head, rendering him unable to continue the fight. Because kicks and knees to grounded opponents are illegal, Silva was disqualified.
He more than made up for that “loss” last year when he picked Okami apart in the second round, a right hook putting the top middleweight contender down for good. Silva was incredibly crisp in the performance, making the strong, sturdy Okami look slow and plodding. Okami could barely land a punch and Silva, as he has been known to do, dropped his hands a few times, daring the challenger to hit him. Of course, Okami was the one on the wrong end of a vast majority of the blows. This was also the first time Silva had fought in Brazil in nine years.
4. Rich Franklin I (UFC 64 – Oct. 14, 2006)
KO (knee) at 2:59 of first round
Silva earned an immediate middleweight title fight after beating top contender Chris Leben in his UFC debut. The champion at the time was Rich Franklin and he had won eight straight fights. At the time of this Las Vegas fight, Franklin was regarded as one of the best fighters in the world.
Silva made him look like an amateur, controlling the fight from the very beginning. Franklin just couldn’t stay out of the Muay Thai clinch and Silva continuously drove knee after knee into the champion’s face, resulting in a nasty, visible broken nose. The referee had enough with a little over two minutes left in the very first round. The Anderson Silva Era had begun.
3. Dan Henderson (UFC 82 – March 1, 2008)
Submission (rear-naked choke) at 4:50 of second round
Silva had rolled through his first five fights in the UFC with nary a threat. Coming off a second win over Franklin five months earlier, Silva was in for his toughest test to date: the legendary former Olympic wrestler Dan Henderson, who had owned championships in PRIDE in two separate weight classes.
Henderson got the better of Silva in the first round, winning the first five minutes on the cards – the last time Silva had clearly lost a round before the Sonnen fight last year. But the champion rallied in the second round and did something he had rarely done before in the UFC – took Henderson’s back on the ground and sunk in a rear-naked choke for a submission victory in Columbus, Ohio. Silva has only one other submission win since then: against Sonnen. This was the first true showcase of the legend’s jiu-jitsu skills.
2. Forrest Griffin (UFC 101 – Aug. 8, 2009)
KO (punch) at 3:23 of first round
Having already defeated every decent middleweight challenger, Silva needed a fresh set of opponents. After looking bored through unexciting wins over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites, Silva moved up to the light heavyweight division for the second time against Griffin, a former champion and Ultimate Fighter winner, in Philadelphia.
It wasn’t just that Silva came up to Griffin’s weight class of 205 pounds from his usual 185 that makes this No. 2 on the list. It was how freakishly dominant he was in this fight. Griffin could seemingly not land a punch, Silva’s head movement looking more like a scene from The Matrix than an MMA fight. Griffin would throw a combination, Silva would dodge every single punch and then land one of his own, sending the former 205-pound champion to the canvas. The knockout came as Griffin came forward, Silva backtracked, eluded a punch and landed what seemed to be a jab square on Griffin’s nose. It was all over from there.
1. Vitor Belfort (UFC 126 – Feb. 5, 2011)
KO (front kick and punches) at 3:25 of first round
This was supposed to be a firefight -- Silva’s devastating Muay Thai against Belfort’s fastest hands in mixed martial arts. There was also history between the two. They were former training partners in Brazil and things didn’t end amiably.
Silva turned what was supposed to be a highly competitive match into a blowout quickly in Vegas, landing a front kick to Belfort’s jaw in the first round that sent the challenger crumpling to the ground. Silva finished it with two pinpoint punches to the face on the ground. It was one of the most incredible knockouts in UFC history – the first front kick to ever end a fight in the organization.
It was this victory that made Silva a megastar in Brazil, where the fight was watched by millions on free television. Since then, Silva has earned blue-chip sponorships in his home country from Nike and Burger King.
Silva is already the greatest mixed martial artist of all time, a statement supported 100 percent by UFC president Dana White, with an incredible amount of memorable fights.
Could next week’s rematch with Sonnen be added to this list?