Ask any Mixed Martial Arts fan to name the top five pound for pound guys of all time and one name is always sure to show. That man is Anderson “The Spider” Silva. According to most analysts and experts, he’s not only on the list, he’s in the top spot.
The Brazilian native first signed with MMA’s premier promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship in April 2006. Relatively unknown in America at the time, Silva made an eye-popping debut in June of that year by stopping Chris Leben in the first round. He landed an astounding 85% of his strikes against Leben.
The victory was so impressive that the UFC allowed fans to vote for Silva’s next opponent. The fans chose UFC Middleweight champion Rich Franklin next for Silva. The two faced off at UFC 64 in October 06‘. Silva displayed an amazing set of striking skills as he finished the champion off in 2:59 of round one that ended with Franklin suffering a broken nose along with facial fractures.
Silva would go on to set records that are likely never to be broken as he went on a 16-fight win streak that included 10 successful title defenses and held the middleweight title for 2,457 days. He lost his belt on July 6, 2013, against Chris Weidman by second-round knockout has he got “caught” while trying to showboat. He would go on to rematch Weidman later that year and suffered a broken fibula and tibia.
Silva, 38-years-old at the time, would undergo surgery to repair the injury but it generally was assumed that he would most likely retire. Silva however announced he would return and did just that a little over 13 months following the injury. He faced Nick Diaz on January 31, 2015 and won by unanimous decision.
Just days after securing the victory over Diaz the Nevada State Athletic Commission announced Silva had failed a pre-fight drug screen as he tested positive for two anabolic steroids, Drostanolone and Androstane. After months of rescheduling, on August 13, 2015, the commission suspended Silva for one year that was retroactive to the day of his fight with Diaz.
Silva returned to the Octagon against Michael Bisping in February 2016 and would lose a unanimous decision. It was apparent that “The Spider” simply wasn’t the same guy at 40-years-old. Even with calls for him to retire Silva has fought two more times, losing to light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier and beating Derek Brunson.
In October of this past year, while preparing for a bout with Kevin Gastelum, Silva once again failed a drug screen. Earlier this month it was announced he tested positive for the synthetic steroid Methyltestosterone. He is currently facing a four-year USADA suspension as a second-time anti-doping offender. Silva, however, is still denying taking any performance-enhancing drugs.
“Maybe the supplements I used are contaminated, I don’t know,” Silva recently told TMZ Sports.
Clearly, Silva is hoping that he won’t face the maximum penalty this time around because he has designs on facing retired boxing star Roy Jones Jr. The boxing great recently had his farewell bout on UFC Fight Pass but said he would consider a return for a chance to fight Silva.
“No of course not [I wouldn’t retire] I go fight for Roy Jones. I’m waiting for Mr. Roy,” Silva said when asked if he would retire should he receive a suspension. “That’s my dream and hopefully this fight comes.”
In many ways, the respective careers of Silva and Jones Jr are similar in that both at their peak were the unquestionable best in the world in their sport. Both have definitely hung around too long and suffered losses neither would have suffered in their “prime”. Both have been associated with performance-enhancing drugs although Silva’s has been at a much higher level.
In other sports such as baseball, known drug use has/is preventing some of the best to ever play the game from entering the Hall of Fame much less be included in any discussion that involves the phrase Greatest Of All Time (GOAT).
So I ask you, is Anderson Silva the “Stained GOAT” of the UFC?