It’s a sign of how dominant Anderson Silva has been that any challenger to his middleweight reign seems to become a star just by facing off with him. Being the greatest of all time, as Joe Rogan described Silva recently, has a way of doing that.
The recent drama about Chris Weidman, and how the powers-that-be are over-hyping his chances for victory against the champion, got me thinking. What blueprint is out there to beat Silva? Sure, Chael Sonnen came close. But he still got stopped by “The Spider” on what may have been his best day, and Silva’s worst, in 2010. Then, in the rematch last year, Sonnen was destroyed in the second round.
Most MMA fans know about a decade ago, Silva suffered a pair of losses via submission, against ground specialists Ryo Chonan and Daiju Takase. But they also know he’s clearly improved upon that weakness, and while Weidman is an excellent wrestler, he’s not exactly a slick submissions wizard. Regardless of what Roger Gracie says about his Renzo Gracie Teammate, a submission is unlikely here. (See also what Robert Drysdale said about Forrest Griffin’s chances against Silva.)
There’s one other MMA loss for Silva in recent years, at the hands of steady Japanese contender Yushin Okami.
This morning, I enjoyed a hot cup of Kona coffee and dusted off the DVD player for a look back at what everyone knew would be a historic night in Hawaii, although we didn’t know exactly how historic.
The bout took place in 2006 in Honolulu, where a union between Jay-Dee Penn and K-1 attracted many of the world’s best in the mid-2000s. This, a welterweight tournament at “Rumble on the Rock 8,” has since been released on DVD by ProElite.
At the opening bell, a much-slimmer Silva can be seen bouncing from Southpaw to Orthodox stances, gracefully timing straight punches and round kicks to Okami’s legs. Two Okami takedown attempts are easily shrugged off, but a third succeeds. Silva easily avoids Okami’s strikes on the mat, and within two minutes, maneuvers a leg around Okami’s guard to land a head kick.
…that’s it. Okami fails to get back to his feet.
One-sided? Yep. To be honest, the Polynesian cultural dancing to begin this show was more “back-and-forth” than this. But hey, it’s history.
Unfortunately, the blow was deemed illegal, with Okami still on his knees as the strike landed — so Okami was named winner.
What can Weidman learn from this? Or more importantly, what can we learn from it?
Well, the match shows that hype doesn’t mean anything. Okami, an excellent fighter who is worthy of the utmost respect, sadly entered the history books via the weirdest of circumstances: a momentary mental lapse which interrupted a one-sided bout. He scored a fluke win, while getting his rear end handed to him.
That didn’t stop the UFC from hyping Okami as a legitimate opponent in a rematch, where he was destroyed.
Likewise, the inexperienced Weidman has very little chances to win next weekend. But it’s a fight, and anything can happen, including, just maybe, one of Weidman’s nasty guillotine chokes in transition, or Silva (finally) aging.
Forget about the hype. Who cares if Weidman isn’t as serious a contender as they say? It’s always a pleasure to watch history unfold – especially when it’s the greatest of all time.
Front-Page Photo Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports