By Jim Casey
Since joining the UFC in 2006, Anderson Silva has reeled off 16 consecutive victories, with finishes of some of the best fighters in the world, including Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen. Let that sink in for a second. He’s not scraping out decision victories à la Georges St-Pierre or Benson Henderson (which I have no problem with)—Silva has been destroying the best fighters the UFC has put in front of him.
Outside of the cage, Silva is a happy-go-lucky, lanky, smiling Brazilian. Inside, he’s hell personified. He makes world-class mixed martial artists look like you and me. He delivers unforgiving knees to the solar plexus, pinpoint jabs to the chin, and wraps his arms and legs around prey like an octopus. Simply put, he’s the best fighter of our times.
He should be sealed in a case, with a sign that reads, “Break Glass Only in the Event of Championship Fight.” At least this scenario would have prevented him from fighting a roided-up Stephan Bonnar at light heavyweight last October. Silva is a 38-year-old Ferrari that’s running out of gas, and there’s no need for him to race a Volkswagen. Everyone already knows a Ferrari is faster. If grandpa Silva only has five fights left in him, I want to them to be against legit contenders.
Enter 28-year-old Chris Weidman, who was still shooting double-legs on Hofstra’s wrestling mats when Silva was rearranging Rich Franklin’s nose. At UFC 162 on July 6, Weidman has been tasked with trying to make Silva look human again, which hasn’t been done since Ryo Chonan locked on a flying heel hook in 2004. Actually, Weidman has been begging for the chance since he elbowed Mark Munoz down the middleweight ladder. Well, Chris, ask and you shall receive.
“He’s a person just like I am, he’s got two arms, two legs, two eyes, like I do,” says Weidman. “I’m not fighting a superhero, I’m fighting another person, and it’s my job to defeat him.”
The problem is, Silva is a superhero. He doesn’t put his manties on one leg at a time like everyone else. He walks into a phone booth as Anderson Silva, and he comes out “The Spider.” For five years, I’ve been dissecting ways for fighters like Henderson, Belfort, and Sonnen to beat Silva. A double-leg here, a high kick there, ground-and-pound…and every time, Silva is the last man standing with his arm raised in victory.
I’m not saying that Weidman can’t beat Silva…he’s got the physical tools…the heart…the Longo. All I’m saying is that Weidman is boldly going where many men have gone before, and it’s rarely been an enjoyable experience. Ask Forrest Griffin or Chris Leben or Yushin Okami. Ask Nate Marquardt or Demian Maia or Stephan Bonnar. Ask Chael Sonnen or Dan Henderson or Vitor Belfort. Ask them, and if they are being honest, they will tell you how terrifying Silva is and how easy he makes it look.
When you watch Silva fight on July 6, make sure you appreciate him for the fighting savant he is. He won’t be around forever. And if Weidman happens to be the one with his hand raised at the end, make sure you appreciate the gravity of that accomplishment, because it hasn’t happened often.