If there was any doubt that Anderson Silva was the greatest fighter on the planet then UFC 153 was an emphatic statement. Against a lesser skilled opponent who’s only advantage was his size, a dubious one at that, Silva wrecked Stephan Bonnar after out-classing him in every possible way. And he came out looking like an artist of violence.
The opening of the fight started out in the only way Bonnar could win: working a clinch game to the ground, grinding it out. And Silva was content to see if he could pull it off like Chael Sonnen tried to. Silva is one thing in the cage and that’s experimental; he wanted to see if Bonnar, in the biggest fight of his life, could duplicate Sonnen’s game plan. And then the killer came out.
He didn’t like Stephan Bonnar’s game plan, knew he couldn’t damage him standing and just said “screw this” and decided to beat him down. Any guy who just stands on the cage, waiting for his opponent to engage when he clearly doesn’t have anything to offer, is either a lunatic or so far ahead of his opponent that he’s trying to push himself. And then he decided that he wanted to go home early, knocking the piss and vinegar out of Bonnar with one of the most brilliantly placed knees to the body, and finished a fighter that Jon Jones, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin, Rashad Evans and other top tier fighters couldn’t. The fact that he made it look so easy was something in and of itself.
We may have felt that an upset along the lines of Rulon Gardner over Alexander Karelin was possible, if only for our love of the underdog in this sport, but this was one of the many lies that populate MMA. People’s often irrational dislike of the champion overlooks the thing about Silva that is unlikely to change.
Anderson Silva is one of the few truths in MMA.
In an era where we’re quick to build up fighters, and then tear them apart, Silva has done nothing but win. Watching the Bonnar fight one thing is fairly evident: the middleweight division may be more loaded than it has in years but it’s hard to imagine anyone bringing this reign to an end. Chris Weidman may have looked ready after dismantling Mark Munoz but nothing he’s shown so far says he’s ready for Silva, especially after tonight. Michael Bisping deserves his shot, as well, but his odds of wresting that title took a leap in Silva’s favor even more Saturday night.
In the film Man on Fire Christopher Walken talks about the nature of man as an artist. He starts off one of the more memorable lines of dialogue with a line that’s one of his more quotable ones. “A man can be an artist… in anything, food, whatever. It depends on how good he is at it. “
Anderson Silva’s art is fighting. The Octagon is his canvas. We’re all watching as he creates his masterpiece.