Anderson Silva’s loss to Chris Weidman last summer is an anomaly. Sixteen years of highlight reel fights and record-setting performances attest to his status as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, mixed martial artist of all time. Yet, there are skeptics that believe Silva’s legacy hinges on this weekend’s rematch with Weidman.
Silva’s eight-year stint in the UFC includes numerous Fight of the Night honors and one Fighter of the Year award. It is where he broke records for consecutive wins, consecutive title defenses, and knockouts landed. If these accolades tell us anything, it’s that Silva knows how to finish a fight.
The lanky Brazilian’s unconventional style immediately puts opponents at a disadvantage. He patiently analyzes the competition before dominating the fight, regardless of whether he stands and trades or takes it to the ground.
For every one of Silva’s memorable matchups, there is an unforgettable ending. Here are Silva’s top five most memorable finishes to a fight:
5. Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen (UFC 117)
Before losing to Weidman, the UFC opponent closest to beating Silva was Chael Sonnen. Their grueling middleweight title fight at UFC 117 showcased ‘The Spider’s’ ability to win via submission. It was named Fight of the Year in 2010 and earned Sonnen a rematch two years later.
4. Anderson Silva vs. Tony Fryklund (Cage Rage 16)
If ever a fight showcased Silva’s ability to win a fight with a single blow, it was his match with Tony Fryklund at Cage Rage 16. He effortlessly knocks Fryklund out with a back elbow and casually walks away. While the match was his last outside of the UFC, it was symbolic of things to come.
3. Anderson Silva vs. Forrest Griffin (UFC 101)
While Griffin never looked comfortable during their UFC 101 match, it doesn’t take away from Silva’s domination of the former UFC Light Heavyweight champion. At one point, Silva even places his hands on his hips waiting for Griffin to get up. Knocked down a third time, Griffin lays on the mat and decides that quitting is a better option that taking another one of Silva’s jabs.
2. Anderson Silva vs. Dan Henderson (UFC 82)
Being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world means utilizing all of one’s skills, and it’s never more apparent than in Silva’s victory over Dan Henderson at UFC 82. Notice a smile break across Silva’s face as he locks in a rear-naked choke. It is the sign of a fighter basking in his brilliance.
1. Anderson Silva vs. Vitor Belfort (UFC 126)
There is a reason this was voted 2011 Knockout of the Year. Silva’s quickness, strength and elusiveness are displayed in one swift front kick. But this isn’t Silva’s most memorable knockout simply because it kept Belfort unable to stand. It reminds us that, even after 13 years as a professional, Silva still finds new ways to shock and awe.