On October 14 2006, Rich Franklin staggered backwards in the octagon after being hit with a barrage of strikes. His mouth was agape, his nose broken and his body language conceded defeat. But, it was Franklin’s wide, terror-filled eyes that resonated most to MMA fans. Nothing could be more shocking than seeing a fighter of Franklin’s pedigree look so flustered and exasperated. That look was one of sheer dread. He was scared of Anderson Silva. Franklin had zero idea how to beat him and didn’t want to be in the same ring as him. Getting into a fighter’s head to that degree is very rare in professional sports and Anderson Silva had found a home inside Franklins. It was on that fateful evening that Anderson Silva truly began to make his presence felt in the sport.
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Despite having notable wins over Hayato Sakurai, Carlos Newton and Jeremy Horn, it wasn’t until his arrival in the UFC that he began to establish a lasting legacy. Since joining the UFC in 2006, Silva has been the most dominant athlete in the sport. Silva has looked nearly unbeatable en route to destroying Chris Leben, dethroning Rich Franklin in brutal fashion, and handing Dan Henderson – arguably the worst dismantling of his career. With the UFC, Silva is a perfect 6-0 over quality opposition.
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After seemingly clearing out the majority of the division, Silva will look to further his status by trying his hand as a light heavyweight. This coming Saturday, he will face off against up-and- comer, James Irvin. Although against a lesser opponent, this bout could have major repercussions for his career and legacy. A win would secure upcoming fights with world-class fighters and the opportunity to leave the sport as the best ever. But, a loss would burst the Spider’s bubble, disposing of his heir of invincibility.
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When witnessing an Anderson Silva fight, the chances are he will thrill you at some point. And, in most of his recent bouts, he has yet to disappoint. Moving up yet another weight class is no easy task. Silva will have his hands full with James Irvin. But, for MMA purists, the thought of Silva punctuating his dominance by defeating Irvin and other future light heavyweights=2 0is an exhilarating prospect. Â
What sets Silva apart from his obvious skills, is his desire to fight the best. Silva is not satisfied fighting contenders he knows he can beat. Instead, he strives to test himself by continually embarking on new challenges — the litmus test of a true competitor. It would be extremely easy for Silva to sit back, fight three times-a-year and dominate mid-tier opposition in the middleweight division. There is no question; he’d still be remembered as one of the better fighters of his time. But, that isn’t enough for Silva. Being remembered, as one of the best does not serve his purposes, Silva’s driven to extend his legacy as THE best fighter of all time. And on Saturday, he will risk a great deal in order to try and achieve that. There is no reward without risk and that is what being a true champion is all about.Â
Brandon Vera vs. Reese Andy
Even in defeat, Brandon Vera held his own against some of the best heavyweights the UFC threw his way. Nonetheless, he will be making his light heavyweight debut. His opponent, the unheralded and former IFL fighter, Reese Andy, is going to have his hands full. This is looking like one of those spoon fed, warm up opponents. This fight should not last very long. Vera is the better fighter in almost every area. Andy’s best bet will be to try and smother Vera using ground n’ pound. Most likely, Vera will use Andy to test the waters of the 205 division, to get comfortable, and end the fight by an early TKO.
Frankie Edgar vs. Hermes Franca
Frankie Edgar versus Hermes Franca should be an interesting match. For Edgar, the fight will determine one of two things. Either Edgar will prove that he is a legitimate contender and can beat most fighters thrown his way. Or, his lack of size will be emphasized as a glaring weakness (as it was against Gray Maynard) and he will be forced to drop to 145, most likely in the WEC. Franca is an exceptional jiu-jitsu artist, with surprisingly heavy hands. He is not a crisp striker and throws wildly, but can knock an opponent out. Although skilled, his take down defense is severely lacking. Sean Sherk took him down at will. If Edger is strong enough to maintain control of Franca, then his solid wrestling should be enough to win him the fight. If Franca20proves to be far too strong, then he could end up getting submitted. Yet, Edger is a scrappy guy who should be able to eek out a decision.
Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns
The last time Anthony Johnson fought, the result was one of the most brutal knockouts I have ever seen. Tommy Speer was knocked out, while still standing and Johnson continued to tee off on him as Speer collapsed onto the ropes. Kevin Burns is coming off an impressive UFC debut but might have bitten off more than he can chew in the form of “big Rumble J.” TKO Johnson, round one.
Cain Velasquez vs. Jake O’Brien
The UFC is doing a poor job of marketing Cain Velasquez versus Jake O’Brien. These two fighters could very well be the future of the division and somewhere down the line could be challenging for the heavyweight strap. Velasquez is one of the big three UFC rookies (along with Shane Carwin and Brock Lesnar) who are being highly touted. O’Brien has done well for himself, except for losing a fight he had been winning to Andrei Arlovski. Both fighters have solid wrestling skills, but Velasquez is just such a physical freak. I hope this fight is televised because it should be an exciting brawl. It’s tough to rule out O’Brien, but Velasquez seems like he is going mirk and beast (a Brett Rogers quote) people for a long time to come. Velasquez by TKO, round two.Â
CB Dolloway vs. Jesse Taylor
The fight between C.B. Dolloway and Jesse Taylor will reunite the Ultimate Fighter cast members. Dolloway is by far, the more well rounded fighter of the two. Taylor has not displayed much of anything besides solid wrestling and takedowns. But, against a fellow wrestler, it remains to be seen if he achieve the same success. Dolloway is athletic and seems to have all the physical tools to become a decent fighter. He should be able to put together a solid performance and beat Taylor at his own game. Dolloway via decision.