Anderson Silva – The Champion

By Thomas Gerbasi

This was it. The longest title reign in middleweight history was about to come to an end. For four-plus rounds, Chael Sonnen had backed up every ounce of his pre-fight smack talk and was putting the finishing touches on a monumental upset win over Anderson Silva.

There was just one problem – Silva wasn’t ready to go yet, and with the seconds ticking away in the fifth and final round, he was still plotting a miracle finish.

“I was thinking of what I had to do to finish the fight, defend my title and go home healthy,” said Silva through translator Derek Kronig Lee.

Healthy was out of the question after absorbing a punishing attack from Sonnen, not to mention a pre-fight rib injury, but the finishing the fight and defending the title for a seventh time (tying him with Matt Hughes for most in UFC history), that was still possible. Not probable, but possible, and at the 3:10 mark of the round, less than two minutes away from defeat, he produced a tap out from Sonnen after locking in a triangle armbar.

It was a stirring victory to say the least, one that will remain on Silva’s highlight reel forever and a true determinant of his status as an all-time great. Winning easy and in dominant fashion is one thing; winning in the face of adversity is quite another. There would be no Muhammad Ali without the wars with Joe Frazier, no Sugar Ray Leonard without Tommy Hearns, and now Silva had shown that same grit against Sonnen, admitting that when you overcome such a test of wills, the true fighter emerges.

“I think all my fights have been tough, and fighting tough opponents builds a stronger fighter, one who can overcome adversity and stay in the fight to the end.”

 

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