Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva has not had the most remarkable past three years, but even in defeat on Saturday night against Daniel Cormier, he reminded us all of why he is one of the greatest champions in the history of the sport.
The Olympian’s lack of hesitation with taking on a new opponent on just two days notice should be praised, but Silva’s ability to rise to a challenge reminded the MMA universe of what a real martial artist is all about.
It was clear that there was no preparation involved for ‘The Spider’ when he took to the scales in the MGM Grand on Friday. With a lack of definition in his arms and a little more stodge in his belly, Silva faked his common reluctance before he stood on the scales. His weight was registered at 198.5 lbs, which shows his lack of precaution considering he was about to take on a former heavyweight champion.
Cormier was preparing for the biggest test of his life against Jon Jones. Looking as good as he ever has, and undoubtedly in the best shape of his life in the lead up to his second tussle with ‘Bones’, it was believed that ‘DC’ would make short work of Silva.
When all was said and done, it was pretty one-sided in favor of Cormier, but he still couldn’t put the icon away. His grounded assault in the first and second round didn’t exactly thrill the spectators in the T-Mobile Arena. Yet, when Silva connected with a body kick in the third and Cormier’s face twisted up due to the pain, the arena exploded in support of the legend.
There was no doubt about who had won the fight when the final bell sounded. It wasn’t Silva, but the Brazilian celebrated as if it had been him who had claimed the victory. To get in there and last the distance in the same world against Cormier, who was gearing up to fight the greatest fighter in the world, is an unbelievable testament to ‘The Spider’.
The enormity of the task was not lost on those who attended the post-fight press conference. An emotional Silva did his best to explain to the gathered media why he felt he needed to step up to the mark.
“I never fought for money,” he said wiping the tears from his face. “I don’t expect anything. I didn’t accept this fight for money. This is our work, obviously, we need to earn money for it, but this is what I love to do. This is the air that I breathe.”
Back in the Good Books
After his two losses to Chris Weidman, Silva looked to bounce back from a broken leg with an exhibition bout against Nick Diaz. Silva collapsed to his knees after the decision was read out in his favor. However, when it was revealed that he tested positive for two banned substances his great name was inevitably tarnished. Silva’s bizarre testimony at his NSAC hearing did nothing to restore the public’s faith in him.
Despite claiming a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus for his efforts against future middleweight champion Michael Bisping back in February, Silva picked up some flack for what many believed was him trying to force and ending to the main event clash.
Dropping Bisping with a knee in the dying seconds of the third round, just after the Brit had motioned to referee Herb Dean about his mouthpiece, Silva straddled the top of the Octagon despite Dean constantly telling him that the fight was not over. Although he had an argument for a win on the night, he ended up on the wrong side of a razor sharp decision. Again, Silva didn’t endear himself to a lot of fans when he put down the loss to “corruption”.
Silva’s misfortune continued when an inflamed gall bladder ruled him out of UFC 198 just four days before he was supposed to meet Urijah Hall. The fact that he underwent a minimal surgery that usually takes six weeks to recover from and still showed up to take on the unenviable task against Cormier is almost unbelievable.
It is unlikely that we will see much more of Silva given his age. The 41-year-old has failed to claim a victory in his last five bouts, but he certainly reminded us of the old school martial arts attitude of taking on all comers at the drop of a hat.
Already considered one of the greatest MMA proponents of all time before he even stepped up to the mark to replace controversial interim champion Jones, his loss to Daniel Cormier at one of the biggest events in the history of the sport only underlines how amazing ‘The Spider’ really is.
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