Anderson Silva was a legitimate UFC champion, destroying opponents at middleweight, and when he got bored, he would move up to featherweight and destroy there as if the rankings of fighters regardless of weight class were invented for him. If you turned on his fight, you were sure: Silva would add to his collection of incredible highlights – he didn’t know how to fight pragmatically and boringly.
A bit of history
After three straight defeats for Fedor, there was no doubt: Anderson Silva is the greatest. He was bigger than any fighter of his generation, that’s why he had some pretty gruesome falls: first, believing he was invincible he was going to be knocked out, then he broke his leg horribly against the block and then he was totally finished – got caught doping.
Talk of the greatest fighter of all time has died down. Drostanolone in Anderson’s sample nullified 18 years of an incredible career: 10 successful UFC title defenses, the longest winning streak in the promotion’s history, destroying Vitor Belfort, humiliating Forrest Griffin and choking Chael Sonnen at the end of a clean loss.
Anderson was turned away, he disappeared from the agenda. Occasionally he would pop up, and it was kind of embarrassing for him (like an over-indulged uncle) when he asked for a fight with lightweight Conor. Luckily, Silva was found another opponent – undefeated puncher Israel Adesanya, who resembles a young Anderson in many ways.
The new UFC star has a thing for comic books and anime. Today he defeated the legendary Silva.
The UFC pitched the fight as a student-teacher battle. Adesanya said he knows Silva better than he knows himself: Israel grew up on his fights, parsed his technique and wanted to be like his hero. But he wasn’t going to feel sorry for Anderson: “Many UFC fans were not yet interested in the sport when Anderson ruled it. A lot of people came into the Ronda Rousey and Conor McGregor era and don’t understand what this guy is all about. But Silva got me into this game. He inspired me and made me believe that a black skinny guy can go into the cage and demolish anyone. Anderson got me into this game, and now I’ll be honored to take him out of it.”
The significance of the fight
The apprentice-teacher pitch brought a spadeful of Silva to life. The bout was supposed to be the second biggest at UFC 234, but it was as much anticipated as the main fight between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum. A few hours before the tournament, Whittaker was rushed to the hospital – he suffered a herniated disc, and everything seemed to fall into place: the Adesanya vs. Silva fight topped the tournament.
Of course, Silva is no longer the same, he has lost his speed, and against fast fighters like Israel he cannot counterattack unexpectedly and sharply. He had to attack himself, so he had to be quick and risky. In one of these, Silva almost ended up on the floor – Israel caught him with a right.
It seemed that Anderson would not live to see the gong. But Silva pulled himself together and had a real Mortal Kombat with Adesanya. The two incredibly malleable and sharp fighters spun spins, punched and kicked at incredible angles, dodged attacks.
There were even some “Let me try one move, but don’t do anything!” moments, and pathetic poses of fighting game characters. Only the fighters fought for real and hit hard.
The 43-year-old Silva is still cool enough to show the trademark “Matrix”: dodging punches so they fly millimetres from his face. He’s good enough to hit unexpectedly and hard. But the 29-year-old Adesanya was still much better. The bout went three rounds, but contained events for a couple of five-rounds – the kind you want to watch endlessly. The bonus from the UFC for the fight of the evening is legitimate.
At the end the fighters fell to their knees in front of each other. After the fight, Israel and Anderson embraced for a long time. “You’re the real man. I still remember the UFC 90 DVDs, bro. I grew up on your fights,” said Adesanya.
Drostanolone has erased Silva’s legacy – Anderson will no longer be called the greatest. But the footage of his fights grows talented guys like Israel Adesanya – isn’t that sporting immortality?