Anderson Silva will fight in the octagon for the last time on Saturday evening in the backend of a glittering career. But can ‘The Spider’ exit the UFC cage the same way he entered it – with a knockout win?
Silva, who will turn 46 on his next birthday, has seen a record during his UFC tenure since his debut win over Chris Leben more than 14 years ago, and although only most blinking Silva fans wouldn’t agree that some of his skills are there have devalued over time, there is little doubt that Silva’s status as an MMA pioneer – whatever happens at the main UFC event in Las Vegas – is set in stone.
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A look at his career book shows you why. That debut win over Leben was achieved in 49 seconds. He won the world title in his next fight against Rich Franklin. It took just under three minutes.
Less than one round of the total time in his UFC career and Anderson Silva was the undisputed world champion. It’s a title he would claim for seven years and 16 fights without loss.
Those defeats came eventually, as they would for any fighter, but not many of Silva’s colleagues were able to effortlessly produce the flawless performances that he took for granted.
And that’s exactly how Silva wants things to move forward in his final UFC fight against Uriah Hall. The American, a full ten years younger than his opponent, is also a well-respected striker (as Adam Cella found in his season of “The Ultimate Fighter”) and will be immersed in exactly the kind of fight Silva wants.
A wrestling match against the fence was never particularly Silva’s forte, even if he had passed most of these tests with flying colors. Instead, Hall, who is just as familiar with his techniques as Silva, hopes to wrest the last bit of competition from the aging Brazilian destroyer.
It would be a fine scalp, no doubt about that.
But whoever wins in between, Silva’s legacy will last much longer than the memories of Saturday’s fight. His 16-fight winning streak will be very difficult to beat (Khabib took 13 wins in eight years with the UFC). This front kick KO against Vitor Belfort or the win from behind against Chael Sonnen.
Even the title defeat by Chris Weidman and the rematch afterwards, in which Silva’s shin was broken after a controlled kick, are deeply forged into anyone who follows the sport to any significant degree.
These memories are the foundations upon which much of today’s mixed martial arts landscape is built. On Saturday we get one last chance to see it.