Five years ago today, MMATorch columnist Jason Amadi asserted that Anderson Silva earned the status of the Greates of All Time with his destruction of Yushin Okami at UFC 134. The following is the original column published on Aug. 29, 2011…
Following Anderson Silva’s destruction of Yushin Okami at UFC 134, virtually every article written about the performance suggests that it “further cements his status as one of the best fighters in the world.” While that is certainly one way to put it, it isn’t really the right way to express what Saturday’s performance expressed. The fact is, at this point it’s clear that Anderson Silva is far and away the best fighter in the world. Objectively, there is no way to construct a solid argument against Anderson Silva being the best middleweight ever, the best pound-for-pound at this point, and the greatest mixed martial arts athlete of all time.
Perhaps the most telling thing about Anderson Silva’s dominance is that it is heavily supported by numbers. Anderson Silva is the longest reigning champion, has more wins in title fights, the longest winning streak, more knockdowns, and more consecutive title defenses than any fighter in the history of the UFC. It’s no wonder he’s been as successful as he has given that he also has the best significant strike percentage of any fighter in the UFC.
Beyond simply shattering UFC records, he’s also managed to notch top five victories in three different weight classes. Back in 2001, Anderson Silva became the first man to ever defeat Hayato “Mach” Sakurai, who at the time was both the #1 welterweight in the world and also widely considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter at the time with a record of 18-0-2. Obviously Anderson Silva went on to become the greatest middleweight fighter of all time without question, but he also notched himself a top 5 win at light heavyweight back in 2009 when he decimated former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin in the very first round.
Aside from the sheer volume of top 10 victories Silva has been able to amass in the last five years, the “Spider” has been able to establish himself as one of the most famed and memorable fighters of all time with the ease in which he’s able to dispatch his opposition. While style points aren’t everything, there is a clear and discernable difference between simply recording victories and dominating in the fashion that Anderson Silva has throughout his career. Whether it’s the jab KO of Forrest Griffin or the front kick knockout of Vitor Belfort, Anderson Silva’s highlight reel is legendary. Even after sustaining a five round bludgeoning at the hands of Chael Sonnen last year, Anderson Silva was able to add to his legacy even further by submitting Sonnen off of his back in the fifth round and retaining his Middleweight Championship in perhaps the most dramatic UFC title fight ever.
Quite frankly, even fellow all-time greats like Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St-Pierre fall short of Anderson Silva in comparison. As dominant as St-Pierre is in the cage, he’s not anywhere near as memorable as Emelianenko or Silva at this point. Though he might have the time to catch up to them, the fact that St-Pierre and Silva are of the same era, and that it’s Silva who holds all the UFC records is too glaring a reality to overlook. As impressive as it is that St-Pierre at one point had won 30 straight rounds in the UFC – Anderson Silva’s dominant victory over Yushin Okami brought his all-time UFC total to just 32 – the fact that St-Pierre has become known as the UFC’s most conservative fighter hurts his standing as the greatest ever, seeing as his main competitor is probably the flashiest MMA fighter ever, and a known finisher.
While many had long ago crowned Fedor Emelianenko the greatest mixed martial arts fighter ever, that simply doesn’t hold up today. While there is no question that Emelianenko is the greatest heavyweight ever, his legacy is damaged by the fact that his career was horribly mismanaged. His decade of dominance will likely never be replicated, but in his prime (Fedor is two years Anderson Silva’s junior), Emelianenko just didn’t have the steady stream of top competition that St-Pierre and Silva have access to in the UFC.
Emelianenko’s legacy (not that he cares) is hurt by the fact that he turned down lucrative offers from the UFC at various points, and that he, along with M-1 Global, can be directly linked to the deaths of three mixed martial arts organizations (Bodog, Affliction, and Strikeforce). By the time Emelianenko finally arrived in Strikeforce, an organization that could give him the kind of competition that an athlete of his stature deserves, he was already past his prime, his skillset was outdated, and as a result he went a paltry 1-3 before being cut by Zuffa.
Based on his impressive body of work and ability to make skilled top ten fighters look like rank amateurs, Anderson Silva is simply the greatest. Barring outright favoritism, there is no way to make a case against Silva going down as the best mixed martial artist we’ve seen. There is a point where divisional, pound-for-pound, and all-time great rankings are no longer subjective, and Anderson Silva front kicked that point in the face.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @JasonAmadi. If there is a rational argument for any other MMA fighter being the GOAT, send it to me in 140 characters or less.