Breaking Anderson Silva's Grip on the Belt

April 5, 2010

He's the middleweight champion of the UFC, he hasn't lost a fight in almost four years, and he's only gone the distance in the Octagon one time. With a record of 10-0 in the UFC, Anderson "The Spider" Silva has people wondering, what's it going to take to beat this guy?

I remember the first time I saw Silva fight, I was watching UFC 64 at a friend's house. As Rich Franklin and Anderson Silva made their way to the Octagon, being a gambler at heart, my boyfriend bet the room ten bucks for anyone who wanted to take Franklin. About five guys took him up on the offer of course. But only three minutes into the first round, Rich Franklin had a mangled mess of cartilage for a nose, Silva had the middleweight belt, and my boyfriend had an unhealthy boost to his betting credentials. It has been almost four years and Silva has yet to break his stride.

His 10 consecutive wins topped Royce Gracie and Jon Fitch's record of eight straight in the organization. Seven of those wins he received by KO or TKO, two by submission, and one by unanimous decision. Not only does he have a remarkable record, but when his opponents aren't cautiously keeping their distance, he has been known to rip through them. Striking with exquisite precision and using every limb to its fullest potential, he's one hell of a force to be reckoned with.

In his latest fight against Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 he circled the Octagon with his hands at his sides, intentionally or not, mocking his opponent. This wasn't the first time we saw such a display of confidence, or possibly boredom, from Silva (eh um, Thales Leites).

For any fighter looking to strap the UFC middleweight belt around their waist in the near future, they have quite an obstacle lying in its current holder. Despite his dominance, challengers continue to come for it. His most recent championship threat falls in the hands of Demian Maia who will meet him in the Octagon at UFC 112 on April 10.

With only one loss on his professional record to Nate Marquardt from a KO-whom Silva TKO'd at UFC 73-Maia has a pretty sleek record himself. He also holds significant power in the only area that any of Silva's opponents have been believed to have an advantage, on the ground. Five out of his six wins in the UFC were acheived by submission, all a type of choke. He's a second degree Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt and has won eight of his 12 fights by submission. To say he's dangerous on the ground would be an understatement.

At the UFC 109 post fight press conference after his unanimous decision win over Dan Miller, Maia noted that he had wanted to try out his boxing and show that he was a well rounded fighter that could exchange with his opponent. He may have been able to prove this against Miller, but he won't be testing anything when he stands across from Silva, who has easily controlled stand up fights with his boxing and Muay Thai.

Maia may not have a standing chance in this fight in the literal sense, but he could certainly impose his power if he sticks with a ground game strategy. Dan Henderson showed that Silva can be handled on the ground in their fight in March 2008. Silva also showed his preference to stand with a well trained Brazilian jiu jitsu fighter when he went up against Thales Leites. Though Silva has a black belt in Brazilian jiu jitsu, if the fight reaches the mat he'll have to be careful because a possible submission will be lingering in every twist and turn Maia makes.

With five, five-minute rounds ahead of them, it doesn't seem realistic that Maia will last long on his feet, nor does it that Silva will on the ground. A minor mistake could easily translate into a quick finish since both of these fighters have the capabilities in their arsenal to do so. Silva is going to have to remain aware of the fatal choke, while Maia avoids lethal knees and quick hands.

The beauty of this match-up is that every potential outcome is an interesting one. Whether by KO/TKO or submission, an early finish never fails to entertain with fighters of this caliber. But if they do happen to go the full five rounds, it would only be the second bout in the UFC that Silva left it to the judges. It'll be incredible if Silva is able to successfully defend his title for the sixth time and if Maia walks away with the belt, well, that'll be one unbelievable ending to one unbelievably stacked card.

Photo Source: UFC