10. The Debut: Crippling the Crippler
vs. Chris “Crippler” Leben at UFC Fight Night (6.28.2006)”
“The Spider” made a name for himself fighting in promotions like SHOOTO, PRIDE and Cage Rage. When it came time for him to debut in the UFC, new fans that were introduced to the sport by Ultimate Fighter didn’t understand the buzz surrounding the Brazilian. After decimating TUF alum Chris Leben in one round, diehard and new fans were quick to pay attention to Anderson Silva.
9. Outclassed, Embarrassed and Disrespectful in Abu Dhabi
vs. Demian Maia at UFC 112 (4.10.2010)
Anderson Silva didn’t appreciate Demian Maia’s pre-fight hype interviews and took it upon himself to punish Maia for his “disrespectful” remarks. Silva goaded Maia for five rounds, dancing around his opponent, taunting him and trash talking him the whole fight. While Maia was clearly outclassed by the champion, it was an embarrassing first showing for UFC in Abu Dhabi.
8. Dominates in Light Heavyweight Debut
vs. James Irvin at UFC Fight Night (7.19.2008)
With no middleweight opponents on reserve after a six fight win streak in the UFC, Anderson Silva decided to go up in weight and test the waters in the light heavyweight division. Veteran James Irvin was named his opponent and the fight lasted just over a minute; Silva caught Irvin’s kick with his left hand and countered with a right straight that ultimately ended the fight.
7. Dawning the White Mask
at the UFC 126 Weigh Ins (2.4.2011)
Belfort accused Silva of hiding behind a mask to intimidate his opponents. Taking this to heart, Silva stepped off the scale at the weigh ins the next day and put on a white mask to let Belfort know he heard what he said. The two went forehead-to-forehead in an intense stare down that visibly made Belfort nervous.
6. Out-Grappling the Olympian (UFC vs. PRIDE)
vs. Dan Henderson at UFC 82 (3.1.2008)
Despite coming off a loss to “Rampage” Jackson, Dan Henderson was expected to be Anderson Silva’s greatest test to date. Henderson’s greco-roman wrestling style was elite enough to keep Silva on his back, and Henderson had enough experience to not walk into submissions. “The Spider” once again proved doubters wrong after smoothly transitioning to a rear naked choke, forcing Henderson to submit.
5. Silva “Aces” Tests
vs. Rich “Ace” Franklin at UFC 64 (10.14.2006) and UFC 77 (10.20.2007)
After defeating Leben in his UFC debut, Silva was rewarded with a shot at Rich Frankin’s UFC Middleweight Title at UFC 64. While both men walked into the cage that night with impressive wins, nothing compared to the resume’ that belonged to Rich Franklin. He defeated legends like Evan Tanner and Ken Shamrock in convincing fashion, so it was no wonder when he was announced the favorite with the sports bookies.
Anderson Silva didn’t let any of that get into his head, though, as he let his technique do his talking for him. Only a mere three minutes into the fight, Silva was announced the new champion.
4. Front Kick KO
vs. Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 (2.5.2011)
Prior to UFC 126, Vitor Belfort was one of the most popular sports figures in Brazil. An unfortunate incident that had to do with his family garnered tons of media attention and Belfort was embraced with sympathy by the media and fans from Brazil over the situation and became a big star. So, while Belfort was getting most of the attention in Brazil without even really solidifying his spot in the UFC, Anderson Silva was getting virtually no attention while he was making history as one of the best combat sports fighters that ever lived.
At UFC 126, Anderson proved to not only Brazil, but the world that he was a better athlete and fighter than Vitor. Silva nabbed the spotlight with a victory and left everyone’s jaw on the floor after he knocked Belfort out with a vicious front kick to the head.
3. Avenges Loss and Solidifies Celebrity Status in Brazil
vs. Yushin Okami at UFC 134 (8.27.2011)
The only blemish on Anderson Silva’s record since 2005 was a disqualification loss to Yushin “Thunder” Okami. Silva was disqualified after delivering an illegal upkick to the head of Okami, rendering him unable to continue. After defeating the likes of Forrest Griffin, Rich Franklin, Chael Sonnen and Dan Henderson, Silva was offered the chance to avenge his loss against Okami in his native home of Brazil.
To go back a fight, Silva defeating Belfort at UFC 126 made him the most popular mixed martial artist in Brazil. His domination at UFC 134: Rio over Okami is what made him a sports superstar. The event was so successful they are planning on returning to Brazil to do a 100,000 seat stadium.
2. Middleweight to Light Heavyweight 101
vs. Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 (8.8.2009)
The UFC Middleweight Champion was coming fresh off a victory over Thales Leites at UFC 97 and he decided he wanted to test the light heavyweight waters once again. The first time was rather successful, but this time around was supposed to be tougher. He fought a lower-caliber opponent in James Irvin his first time around and once everyone saw that it was Forrest Griffin that would be his next fight, some fans thought Silva’s streak. If anyone could fight through Silva’s barrage of punches and dish out a few shots of his own, it’d be Forrest. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
The fight didn’t even last five minutes. After knocking Griffin down multiple times, the referee called the fight.
1. The Ultimate Comeback: Triangle-Armbar in the 5th
vs. Chael Sonnen at UFC 117 (8.7.2010)
If there’s a way to defeat Anderson Silva, Chael Sonnen is it. To defeat Anderson Silva, you have to attack him from the start and you have to have the cardio of a machine. Simple elite wrestling won’t defeat Silva because that’s what we thought when Henderson stepped in the octagon with him. Sonnen’s aggressive style of wrestling is so unusually grinding, it’s hard to train for. The deciding factor is whether or not Sonnen will leave himself exposed for a submission while on top… and that was the story of UFC 117.
Sonnen dominated four of the first five rounds and was on his way to becoming the UFC Middleweight Champion. All that stood between him and bringing the belt home was the fifth round and Anderson Silva. Apparently, that’s all Silva needed. Late in the fifth when it seemed like we would have a new champion, Silva slapped on a fast triangle choke that Chael defended perfectly by scooting to his bum. His only mistake was that he left his arm exposed, and Silva intelligently transitioned to a triangle-armbar. Sonnen had no other choice but to tap.
Tags: anderson silva, Chael Sonnen, Chris Leben, dan henderson, Demian Maia, forrest griffin, James Irvin, Mixed Martial Arts, Yushin Okami