by Jordan Breen (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Anderson Silva is a great fighter.
No, I know, that's not a startling revelation, let alone an interesting one. After his three-minute mauling of Forrest Griffin on Saturday night, the ever-fickle MMA public has decided that Silva is to be celebrated once again, and in the strongest of terms.
That's to be expected after a performance with such a violent and skillful aesthetic. Griffin threw 35 strikes at Silva's head and landed literally one. Silva knocked Griffin on the mat three times. In case you're not mathematically inclined, that means Silva actually knocked Griffin down triple the amount of times that Griffin even touched his face. However, what's been overlooked in discussion of Silva's superlative skills is his equally lofty accomplishment.
Silva's complete sonning of Griffin is not just a technical sign of the times or an acid test that portends a successful light heavyweight run. It's actually set a particularly impressive standard for pound-for-pound achievement: With the victory, Silva has become the first fighter in this sport's short modern history to defeat top-five opponents across three weight classes.
Of course, Silva became a superstar when he became MMA's first pantheon-level middleweight. However, long before he ever eviscerated Rich Franklin, even before his Pride tenure, Silva was one of the sport's best welterweights. Eight years ago, he rolled into Osaka and took the Shooto world 168-pound title from Hayato "Mach" Sakurai, who was widely seen as the sport's top pound-for-pound fighter at the time.
In fact, on the back of that victory, Silva was actually slated to make his UFC debut at UFC 34 to face then-champ Carlos Newton. The exclusive deal that Zuffa wanted for Silva didn't jive with "The Spider," though, or his Chute Boxe handlers, who wanted to keep doors to Pride and Meca Vale Tudo open. Just think how radically different history might be if Silva got into the Octagon in '01 and Matt Hughes didn't unconsciously powerbomb his way to glory. Maybe there's a Marvel Comics-style "What If?" concept brewing.
Nonetheless, it is strange that the victory over Sakurai gets glossed over historically when it was Silva's first great moment and it is an accomplishment that stands the test of time. How often does any fighter dethrone the pound-for-pound king? Surely when Silva loses, the world won't forget about it in eight years -- at least I hope not. link