Anderson “The Spider” Silva (born April 14, 1975) is a Brazilian mixed martial artist and former UFC Middleweight Champion. Silva has also fought as a welterweight in his career, holding the record for the longest title reign in UFC history (2,457 days). Silva holds the second most consecutive title defenses in UFC history (10) and holds the record for the second-longest active winning streak in the UFC (16). He is viewed as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time by various publications.
The Early Days
Anderson was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He began training jiu-jitsu after being invited by a friend to try it out. Anderson has said that he was “immediately hooked.” Silva also started training in taekwondo, capoeira, and Muay Thai early in his life. Silva began his professional mixed martial arts (MMA) career in 1997, winning his first two fights before he got his first professional loss. After his first loss, Silva managed to acquire a nine-fight win streak. He has since compiled a record of 34 wins and 11 losses, with 23 of his wins coming by way of knockout, three by submission, and eight by decision.
Pride FC & Cage Rage
After compiling a record of 11-1 in his first 12 fights, Anderson received an offer to compete in the Pride Fighting Championship. Silva won his next three fights, one of them being versus the former UFC welterweight champion Carlos Newton. At Pride 26, Silva fought Daiju Takase, who was the underdog in the fight, but somehow Takase managed to submit Silva via triangle choke. After this defeat, Silva became discouraged and wanted to quit MMA; however, he was convinced to continue training by Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, with whom he started training at the Brazilian Top Team gym.
At the end of 2004, Silva made his debut at the Cage Rage promotion in England, where he defeated one of the craziest fighters to ever enter the MMA scene, Lee Muray. I would highly encourage you to read up on Lee Muray since his story is one straight out of the movies. Silvas’s next fight ended up being a loss, which resulted in Silva being cut out of the Pride FC promotion. Silva won his next two fights before being disqualified in his third fight due to kicking his opponent in an illegal way.
“The Spider” Enters The UFC
In 2006 Silva signed with the UFC for a multi-fight contract. Silva made his debut at Ultimate Fight Night 5 on 28 June 2006. The underdog Silva, unknown to most of the US fans, knocked out the undefeated Chris Leben in 49 seconds of the first round. Silvas’ win over Leben was so impressive that fans wanted Silva to immediately fight the UFC Middleweight Champion Rich Franklin. Silva got his chance at the UFC Middleweight Champion belt at UFC 64 on 14 October 2006, where he defeated Franklin in the third round via TKO.
Silvas Legendary Championship Reign
Anderson successfully defended his title against Travis Lutter at UFC 67, adding another submission under his belt. His next title defense was against Nate Marquardt at UFC 73, who Silva defeated via TKO at the end of the first round.
Anderson then went on to defend his title against Rich Franklin in a rematch at UFC 77. Anderson won the fight via TKO in the second round. Anderson then defended his title against former PRIDE Welterweight Champion Dan Henderson at UFC 82, winning via submission (rear-naked choke) in the second round. Silva went up in weight to light heavyweight, where he defeated James Irvin via TKO in the first round.
Anderson Silva successfully defended his UFC Middleweight Championship belt for a fourth time at UFC 90 by defeating Patrick Cote via TKO in the third round. At UFC 97, Silva once again defended his UFC Middleweight Championship belt, defeating Thales Leites via unanimous decision.
Silva went on to fight another light heavyweight bout vs. Forrest Griffin, who he defeated via first-round KO at UFC 101. In his next title defense at UFC 112, Silva defeated Demian Maia via unanimous decision but was booed by the crowd for much of the fight due to his refusal to engage in offensive fighting.
Anderson’s seventh title defense came at UFC 117 when he defeated Chael Sonnen by submission (triangle choke) in the fifth round. This win broke Anderson’s previous record for most consecutive title defenses, as well as setting the new mark for the longest active winning streak in the UFC at the time. However, Silva barely managed to grasp the win out of the jaws of defeat since Sonnen went to town, landing 289 strikes on Silva.
His eighth title defense was against Vitor Belfort (after the prime TRT Vitor days), who Silva defeated with his iconic front kick to the face, knocking Vitor out cold in the first round at UFC 126.
Silvas’s ninth title defense was an old enemy Yushin Okami who Silva beat via second-round TKO. The next title defense was a rematch against “The American Gangster” Chael Sonnen, who Silva defeated via TKO in the second round at UFC 148. Silva went on to fight another light heavyweight bout against Stephan Bonnar at UFC 153, who he defeated via first-round TKO.
The End Of An Era
Anderson’s title reign came to an end at UFC 162 when he was defeated by Chris Weidman via knockout in the second round due to not taking his opponent seriously. Silva was well known to toy with his opponents; however, this time, Silva didn’t manage to slip Weidman’s punches as he intended to and got caught.
Anderson Silva went on to rematch against Chris Weidman at UFC 168, but Anderson lost via TKO in the second round after breaking his shin while throwing a kick at Weidman. This injury was horrible to watch play out, and I am sure that moment is ingrained in many UFC fans’ memories.
Anderson Silva returned to the Octagon at UFC 183, defeating Nick Diaz via unanimous decision. However, Anderson failed post-fight drug tests due to testing positive for Drostanolone and Androstane. As a result, Anderson’s win over Nick Diaz was overturned to a no contest.
Anderson Silva’s next fight after getting suspended for one year was against Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 84, where he lost via unanimous decision. At UFC 200, Silva came in as a replacement on short notice to fight against UFC Light Heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in a non-title where he lost via unanimous decision.
His next fight was against Derek Brunson at UFC 208, where he won the fight via unanimous decision. However, many considered that Brunson should have been awarded the win. The next fight on Silvas’s agenda was a metaphorical passing of the torch from Silva to Israel Adesanya due to the fact that Israel had a similar fighting style to Silva. Both were highly skilled strikers who liked to play with their opponents. Israel won the fight via unanimous decision.
Life After The UFC
Silva lost his next two fights, the first against Jared Cannonier and the second against Uriah Hall. Silva was released from his UFC contract, and he went on to pursue a career in boxing at the ripe age of 46 years old. Silva faced Julio César Chávez Jr. on 19 June 2021, who he defeated via split decision, and Tito Ortiz on September 11, 2021, who he defeated via first-round KO.
The Silva Legacy Continues
Silva has five children, three sons, and two daughters. Two of his sons, Kalyl Silva and Gabriel Silva, are following in their father’s footsteps in MMA. Both of them are already showing incredible talent in their fighting game. Who knows, they might even give their dad a run for his money later on.
Anderson Silva is widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. In 2012, ESPN ranked Anderson Silva as the greatest MMA fighter of all time. In 2008 Silva was named The Fighter Of The Year by Sports Illustrated.