Just thirty-five months ago, Anderson Silva (pictured) was sitting firmly on top of the mixed martial arts world. Although he was still active, and dominating the opposition, Silva had already established himself the game’s GOAT in the eyes of most pundits. The Michael Jordan of MMA, if you will.
Longest UFC winning streak (16): Check
Most consecutive UFC title defenses (10): Check
Both are still UFC records. The first mark may never be broken, but reigning flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson and former/current interim light heavyweight champ Jon Jones are closing in on the second record with eight title defenses apiece.
Of course, not all professional sports careers, no matter how illustrious, come with a fairy tale ending. The beginning of the end for Silva came when Chris Weidman rendered him unconscious on the canvas at UFC 162 to steal the middleweight belt.
That was a fluke? Weidman snapped Silva’s shin in two five months later in their immediate rematch.
Some thought Silva should have called it quits at that point, and in hindsight, Silva probably wishes he would have. Instead, Silva insisted on signing a UFC-record 15-fight contract extension at the age of 39.
Silva returned from arguably the most gruesome injury in MMA history just 13 months later by posting a unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 183. The win wasn’t long for the record books after Silva was busted for multiple performance-enhancing drugs after the fight.
Silva’s W was overturned to a no contest, he was docked $380,000 and banned one year. Most importantly, Silva’s reputation was forever tarnished.
As hard as Silva tried to brush his flunked drug test under the rug, his résumé will never be viewed the same thanks to that mysterious blue vial from Thailand that was supposed to help his sexual performance.
While Silva showed glimpses of his past brilliance against Michael Bisping in February, he still dropped a unanimous decision. The most decorated champion in UFC history is now 0-3 (1 NC) over his past four outings.
Silva hasn’t won a fight since making Stephan Bonnar look absolutely silly at UFC 153. That was nearly four years ago.
Now 41 and with the best years of his career in his rear-view mirror, Silva looks to collect a much needed win at UFC 198 against Uriah Hall, the man UFC president Dana White once dubbed as “the next Anderson Silva.”
If Silva wants to be anything more than an over-the-hill punching bag that up-and-comers can make a name off of, this is about as must-win as it gets. Another loss Saturday and Silva should just ride off into the sunset.
In fact, posting a victory in front of his Brazilian brethren might even be the perfect sendoff. Think Kobe Bryant going off for 60 points in a win over the Utah Jazz in last month’s swan song.
The Anderson Silva that once dazzled fans is long gone. Everyone has accepted that, and now it’s time for Silva to, as well.