If UFC Vegas 12 is to be host to Anderson Silva’s final fight — and it certainly seems that way, although Silva himself has muddied the waters at times — then it is time to reflect on what is unquestionably a Hall of Fame career.
Silva was the longest-serving UFC middleweight champion. Set the record for title defenses (it still stands at 185lbs, although overall, the mark was eventually eclipsed by Demetrious Johnson). Moved up in weight for a few fun fights. And dazzled fans with moments like his front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.
“The Spider” is one of the last of his era, a holdover from PRIDE and mid-2000s UFC. Some would argue he’s stuck around too long (Gegard Mousasi said exactly that earlier this week), but as the 45 year old reaches the finish line, it’s easy enough to overlook his late-career stumbles.
Silva himself was happy to reminisce with Cageside Press this week during a virtual media session for UFC Vegas 12. On his memorable fight with Forrest Griffin, “I need to say thank you for Forrest Griffin,” Silva began, before revealing that he’d watched Muhammad Ali fights to prepare himself for the bout. “I think that’s the secret to make something good in this fight. The magic moment happened,” he said. “I need to say thank you for Forrest. It was the best moment in my life. Of course I have a lot of best moments, but this is a very special moment too.”
Of course, then there’s Silva’s rivalry with Chael Sonen. While their second contest never really lived up to the hype (thanks to an ill-advised spinning back fist by Chael), that first outing at UFC 117 turned out to be a classic. Sonen had the better of the champ for four rounds and then some. But in the fifth, Silva caught the challenger in a triangle. The comeback was compete.
“In this fight with Chael, I’m very comfortable for talking about it and I’m very happy to talk, because Chael gave me the energy for training hard for this fight. And I gave good energy for Chael for training hard.” It takes two to tango, in other words. The “character” of Chael Sonen, if it wasn’t born in that fight, was certainly perfected there. Sonnen became a heel, trashing talking beyond what the sport had really seen previously. It helped bring Silva himself to the next level.
“Chael completed me, and I completed Chael in this fight,” suggested Silva. It was “the best fight for fans, especially in Brazil, and especially for me and Chael too.”
Of course, Silva enters professional bout number 46 this weekend against Uriah Hall. One last opponent to make some memories with.
Watch the full UFC Vegas 12 virtual media day press scrum with the legendary Anderson Silva above.