Anderson Silva isn't my favorite MMA fighter.
There, I said it.
Sure he's the greatest, maybe ever. I certainly thrilled to his incredible performance against Yushin Okami at UFC 134. Intellectually I'm in awe of his abilities, creativity, knowledge and skill. I have nothing but the utmost respect for him as a person and a professional. He can't be said to have ever ducked a challenge. But, as Elvis Presley once said, he just don't move me.
Let's not make this complicated, here are three big reasons that Anderson Silva leaves me cold:
- Not Just No Great Rivals, Only Even One Good Rival
Despite having four career losses, Silva just hasn't found an opponent worthy of him. None of the guys (Luiz Azerado, Daiju Takase, Ryo Chonan, Yushin Okami) who
beat himown wins over him are at all notable and there's zero reason to believe any of them would even challenge him in a rematch. He beat Rich Franklin, the guy he took the title from, twice and utterly. Despite having had tough back-and-forth fights with two of the most hate-able men in MMA history -- Lee Murray and Chael Sonnen -- the failings of those two jokers have prevented a rematch. There's still hope for Sonnen to get it together and earn a rematch. Cross your fingers.
Sinks to the Level of His Opposition
Even worse than his sin of having been a truly great fighter in a very thin division is Silva's tendency to lower himself when fighting mediocre opposition. When Silva isn't challenged by his opponent -- often due to a bad style clash that renders pure grapplers with limited wrestling helpless against Anderson -- he tends to goof off and fight lousy. He did it against Demian Maia and Thales Leites and could be accused of it against Patrick Cote. To the extent that those fights became total mockeries of the sport, the fans, his opponent and his talents, it's hard for me to emotionally re-engage with Silva as a fan.
- No Career Narrative, No Drama
It doesn't help that Silva's career arced through four different promotions on four different continents and yet the story as a whole doesn't add up to anything. In Brazil he was a rising, but limited, talent who started slow and improved steadily. In Japan he was an instant success who became an infamous bust in the big leagues. In England he matured into his full abilities and dominated some tough competition. In the U.S. he was an instant force who was rushed into a title shot because the division was a vacuum. It's easy to forget how dreadfully thin the UFC's 185lb division was when Silva arrived in 2006. There's a reason he got a title shot after one UFC win: there was no one else even remotely credible as a challenger to Rich Franklin. Once he had the belt he just continued to maul the better challengers and coast against the weaker ones. The big come-from-behind win over Chael Sonnen being the one exception.
I remain hopeful though. Silva's too smart and too talented, too rare a talent for a mayhem addict like myself to hope and pray for a string of great fights against worthy opponents. In part two I'll talk about the fights that could make me care about Anderson Silva again.