From 1997 until 2020, Anderson Silva was one of the most recognizable names in MMA. Joining the UFC in 2006, Silva went on a dominant run that may never be duplicated. His legacy is unmatched.
Although injuries and losses affected the latter half of his MMA career, Silva remained a fan favorite. Silva left the UFC in 2020 and moved to boxing. Already 1-1 before entering the ring in 2021, Silva beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Tito Ortiz.
Silva will face YouTuber Jake Paul in a boxing bout on October 29. Silva’s drawing power has helped make this a must-watch affair.
Silva has provided fans with moments they will never forget. Can Silva finish Paul, who is making waves in boxing, and add another huge highlight to his legendary career?
MORE: All you need to know about Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva
The Sporting News looks back at some of Silva’s greatest moments inside the cage.
5. UFC (Silva) vs. PRIDE (Dan Henderson) at UFC 82 (2008)
In 1998, Dan Henderson won the UFC 17 middleweight tournament. Following a long stint in PRIDE, Henderson, the PRIDE middleweight champion, returned to the UFC in 2007. Still holding gold, he faced Silva in 2008 for the UFC middleweight title. It was a dream fight featuring two dominant middleweights.
Many believed that Henderson’s wrestling ability would be too much for Silva to handle. Henderson did bring Silva to the ground but couldn’t finish it in round one.
Silva took advantage and started round two with several strikes. In the middle of the cage, Silva landed a kick to the face of Henderson. On the ground, Henderson attempted to block Silva’s elbows, but to no avail. On top of Henderson, Silva landed knees to the body and would not stop tagging him.
Silva then submitted a tired Henderson with the rear-naked choke. The battle of the middleweights ended with Silva having his hand raised.
4. Beating Rich Franklin to win the UFC middleweight title (UFC 64, 2006)
Rich Franklin won the UFC middleweight title in 2005. He successfully defended the title twice and was ready to face Anderson Silva.
His title reign came to an end in the blink of an eye. It was Silva’s second UFC fight.
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Franklin attempted to start the fight hot right away with various shots to Silva. His opponent was too much for him to handle. Silva grabbed Franklin into a clinch and landed multiple knees to the body. He then moved to the head and landed one knee that appeared to knock out the champion. The referee didn’t stop the fight, so Silva landed a kick to the face and one final knee that ended Franklin’s reign.
Silva would defend the title ten times, beating Franklin in a rematch in 2007. That first match showed just how dominant Silva could be when gold was on the line.
3. Dominant win vs. Forrest Griffin (UFC 101, 2009)
The first winner of The Ultimate Fighter, Forrest Griffin just lost the UFC light heavyweight title the fight before he faced Silva. In the middle of a great run as champion, Silva moved a weight class to fight Griffin.
Silva and Griffin competed in one of the most lopsided UFC fights in company history.
Silva former used his brilliant defense to avoid all of Griffin’s shots, now known as “Entering The Matrix.” He then found his moment and engaged in a sparring clinic. Silva landed straight lefts and a few kicks to hurt Griffin. Pushing forward, he knocked Griffin down three times.
One big jab forced Griffin to the ground, never to recover. As casual as ever, Silva’s performance was out of this world.
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2. Front kick vs. Vitor Belfort (UFC 126, 2011)
Following a comeback win against Chael Sonnen (more on him later), Silva defended the UFC middleweight title against former UFC light heavyweight champion Vitor Belfort. On a five-fight win streak, Belfort was ready to dethrone Silva.
The fight was over before it began.
Belfort was ready to strike down Silva early on in the fight. However, Silva was not ready yet to end his run as champion. He instead struck Belfort with a vicious front kick to the face. Belfort collapsed to the floor, and a few seconds later, the referee called the fight.
It was one of the biggest knockout wins of Silva’s career and a highlight finish that will never be forgotten.
1. The comeback vs. Chael Sonnen (UFC 117, 2010)
One of the greatest rivalries, fights, and comebacks in UFC history involved Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen. Two opposites, the calm Silva and the loud-mouthed Sonnen were the perfect dance partners when they fought for Silva’s UFC middleweight title at UFC 117.
Sonnen would not stop talking trash leading up to the bout, attempting to get into Silva’s head. It may have worked, as Sonnen would put on a clinic against “The Spider.” The man with the wrestling background hurt Silva with strikes, something fans were not expecting. Sonnen landed over 89 strikes and three takedowns in the fight.
For four rounds, it looked as if Silva was going to be dethroned. And then came the greatest comeback as Silva slapped on a triangle choke in round five. Sonnen attempted to fight out of it, but Silva was able to straighten Sonnen’s arm. The challenger tapped, and the crowd was amazed at what they saw.
While Silva knocked out Sonnen at UFC 148 two years later, the comeback at UFC 117 is one of the most talked-about moments of the rivalry between the two and of Silva’s career.