The Spider’s last stand – Why Anderson Silva needs to win at UFC 208
Legends never die, and legacies never fade. From Babe Ruth to Michael Jordan, history fondly remembers those who excelled at what they did.
The fight game is completely different from any other sport, and the inevitable catches up with the fighters soon. The average shelf life of a fighter is considerably smaller than that of an athlete in a different sport. As such, you have that small window – a decade or two, to etch your name in the annals of sporting history.
When we talk about the greatest fighters of all time – the Muhammad Alis or the ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinsons of MMA, one name keeps popping up constantly. At a time when fighters relied on brute strength to finish their fights, one particular mixed martial artist caught people’s attention with his grace, and his ability to counter strike at will.
Anderson Silva, in mid 2000s could be compared to Picasso, with his flawless movement like the brush strokes, painting an almost picture – perfect image. Silva can be used as the prime example of why an MMA fighter is, undeniably so, an artist. In his prime, Anderson would almost toy with his opponents, often taunting them with his hands down. And when they missed – as they often did – he would connect with a counter and drop them to the mat.
Silva was exceptional in baiting his opponents, but Father Time once again proved that no one – not even the most exceptional athletes, could escape from his clutches. Anderson, now in his late 30s started getting slow, and against Weidman, Silva was reminded that he was, after all, a mere mortal. The past couple of years have been tough for The Spider, as Silva had to sit on the sidelines due to a gruesome compound fracture – an injury that could’ve easily ended his career.
As we’ve often seen with career ending injuries, it changes the psyche of a fighter. Silva’s body knew that he was no longer in his twenties, and Anderson looked rusty and slow in his return fight with Nick Diaz. Silva has since fought twice, losing on both the occasions. In a stark contrast to his 17 fight win streak, Silva hasn’t won any of his previous five fights (his win over Nick was later overturned to no contest).
This brings us to Silva’s fight with Derek Brunson – an up and comer who has excellent wrestling, and an aggressive stand up game. Brunson relies heavily on his strength during the stand up exchanges, and is a versatile grappler, being a 3 time Division II All American wrestler.
You can make a case for Silva not deserving his last two losses – Silva almost stopped Bisping, before the fight was restarted under controversial circumstances, and his fight with Cormier was put together at the eleventh hour. Silva was unlucky on both occasions to get the ‘L’, which makes his upcoming fight that much more important. Anderson Silva, with a win over Derek Brunson can find himself back on track to make one final attempt at getting a title shot a la Andrei Arlovski in 2015.
The middleweight division is currently one of the most stacked divisions in the UFC. With the likes of Yoel, Jacare, Rockhold and Weidman knocking on the door for a potential title shot, Silva finds himself at the back of the line. However, a win over Brunson would propel Silva to a fight with a top five ranked opponent.
It is difficult to map the future of The Spider in the UFC. For years, Silva was the undisputed G.O.A.T, dismantling his opponents with ridiculous ease. He now finds himself at crossroads; with a loss to Brunson, Silva’s dreams of getting another title shot are all but over. While Silva is still one of the greatest of all time, his value as a prize fighter will undoubtedly take a hit.
The fact that Silva has been lobbying for a fight with Conor McGregor makes his next fight all the more crucial. A win against Brunson could validate Silva’s claims, while a defeat could very well see Silva becoming the next legend that stuck around for too long.