Silva held the Middleweight Championship for an unprecedented seven years.
By the time you are reading this, Anderson Silva (34-10-0) will have fought his retirement fight against Uriah Hall (16-9-0). Regardless of the outcome, Silva will go out with one of the most distinguished resumes the UFC has ever seen. From 2006 to 2013, Silva was the UFC Middleweight Champion, holding the belt for 2,457 days and winning sixteen consecutive fights in that time-span with both being UFC records. Silva’s style of impeccable striking and powerful kicks has left a lasting influence on the young fighters that have entered the UFC since his debut.
Adrian Yanez, making his UFC debut on the same card as Silva’s retirement fight, described the impact Silva had on him In an interview with MMA Junkie.
“I don’t see how people couldn’t look up to him,” Yanez said. “He’s soft spoken, and any time he would step into the cage it was something special.”
In a different interview with MMA Fighting, current UFC Flyweight champion Deiveson Figueiredo weighed in on Silva’s legacy.
“Anderson Silva has made a huge impact in my life,” Figueiredo said. “He’s one of the fighters I looked up to the most when I started training. To me, without shadow of a doubt, Anderson is the best fighter of all time. He’ll forever be ‘The Spider.’ It’s hard to forget a fighter with a legacy like his.”
When the dust settles on Silva’s illustrious career, the debate will inevitably turn to whether he could be considered the G.O.A.T., or Greatest of All Time, UFC Fighter. In his prime, Silva was one of the most feared and respected opponents across both the Middleweight and Featherweight divisions. He competed in and collected record after record along the way. These records include most finishes and knockdowns in UFC history, as well the most Knockout of the Night awards and a bevy of Fight of the Night and Fighter of the Year honors to boot.
Despite all these accolades, Silva’s legacy is not without its faults. After his record-breaking 14th successful title defense against Stephen Bonnar (15-9-0) back in 2012, Silva was set to retire. In an interview with Davi Correia of the UFC, Silva explained his mindset after that fight.
“I want to stop, I want a time for myself, to stay with my family,” Silva said. “I have been doing this for years and I’m losing contact with my kids. I’m only training and training, it’s not working for me anymore.”
Silva was eventually lured back for another title defense, this time against the at-the-time undefeated Chris Weidman. That fight ended in a shocking loss for Silva, resulting in his loss of the championship belt and causing a downward spiral that was only made worse by Silva’s gruesome injury in his rematch against Weidman. Silva went for a kick to which Weidman countered with his knee causing Silva’s leg to break. Silva never truly recovered from this incident, going just 1-6 until his final fight against Hall.
It’s possible that had Silva retired after his win against Bonnar, there would be no disputing his status as the greatest MMA fighter in history. Still, it is hard to hold his late-career hardships against the sum of his entire career. After all, it is impressive that Silva is still fighting at all after his grisly injury let alone at such a relatively advanced age of 45. In fact, Silva is the oldest ever UFC fighter to still compete and shows just how much toughness and drive Silva has. Fans and experts alike may argue Silva’s place in the pantheon of greatest ever to fight in the octagon, but it is clear his accomplishments can stand toe-to-toe against the best.