UFC 237: Can Anderson Silva Flip the Script Against Jared Cannonier in Brazil?

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UFC 126 Anderson Silva UFC 234 Israel Adesanya UFC 237
Credit: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com

Anderson Silva will receive a hero’s welcome when he walks out at UFC 237, but Jared Cannonier will be looking to see if the legendary former champion is vulnerable enough to be upset in Brazil.

Saturday night will feature no shortage of storylines as Brazilian fighters all at different points in their careers look to deliver at home. Some, like José Aldo, will be looking to continue to add to their legacy. Others, like Jessica Andrade, will be looking to join the long line of the country’s champions. None are as decorated as former middleweight champion Anderson Silva who is looking to return to the win column with a victory over Jared Cannonier at UFC 237.

In a testament to his longevity, Anderson Silva has remained in the fight game long enough that he is on track to retire with his far younger countryman José Aldo. The former middleweight champion has discussed that he has nothing left to prove for his career, and the fight with Cannonier is a chance to compete in his beloved home in Brazil where he is considered a sporting legend. “The Spider” has headlined two UFC events in Brazil, turning in two of the most impressive finishes of his career on home soil and the hope is that Saturday adds to the collection.

He has said that wins and losses aren’t as important as the love of the competition at this stage of his career. That mindset is likely the reason for his positive demeanor despite being in a stretch that has seen losses in five of his last seven fights, and a title shot at age 44 is not likely to happen. Silva’s recent skid hasn’t seen him look like a victim out in the cage, but time is also not on his side. The competition is increasingly youthful, and as with every single athlete, a steep decline is inevitable.

“The Killa Gorilla” Jared Cannonier is exactly the opponent who could bring about that time for Silva. A veteran of the UFC since 2015, Cannonier has competed in three different weight classes and is currently ranked 10th in the division, four spots ahead of Silva. Most recently, he had a successful debut in the middleweight division in November when he dispatched former two-division WSOF champion David Branch via second-round TKO. The performance added to his Octagon victories over Nick Roehrick, Ion Cutelaba, and Cyril Asker.

While his name is not as imposing as the established contenders of the middleweight division, he has shared the cage with former title challengers and rising contenders such as Glover Teixeira and Dominick Reyes. He is a powerful fighter, who combined with his physicality could have the recipe to devastate Silva in front of the Brazilian crowd. To be able to stop Anderson Silva in Brazil is a huge feather in the cap of any fighter and Cannonier arguably has the perfect circumstances going into the bout.

Stylistically, footwork and movement are key for Silva to end his skid and walk out with another victory in front of his country. He should look to use his kicks to slow Cannonier and create openings by trying to get “The Killa Gorilla” to initiate the action. He will want to keep the fight in the middle of the Octagon where he has the most room to move and set-up his trademark counters.

Cannonier should look to cut off the cage and force Silva into the fence. It is more than likely he will eat shots from the long, technical striker but closing off Octagon will put him in great position to rip shots to the body and wear down the former champion. His best position will be against the fence where Silva is corralled in front of him and he can attack him with powerful punches.

Win or lose, Anderson Silva will be looking to fight out the rest of his contract in the best fights possible. So long as he continues to be competitive, there is no reason that he should not continue to do so. For Jared Cannonier, a victory over Silva would give him a huge boost in visibility and likely set him up for another marquee bout moving forward.

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