Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Would the Spider's Web Be Strong Enough for Fedor?

Damn. I wish I had known Spike was airing a special UFC Unleashed tonight before the latest installment of the Ultimate Fighter.

My Tivo Season Pass caught it so no harm on my end, but I was looking for an excuse to expound on the virtues of UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Trying to get people to tune in to catch the five-fight highlight reel UFC Unleashed would have been perfect. Plus, had viewers stuck around, they would have seen the greatest meltdown in the history of the Ultimate Fighter (which, given the show's history, is saying something). And that was followed by the beginning of what could potentially be an even better one.

Yep, it was a solid night for fights so just the fact that it was on is enough of an excuse.

Forget Fedor against Captain America. No disrespect to Randy Couture, who is an absolute monster in his own right, but I want to see the best two fighters on the planet toe-to-toe. Right now, that fight absolutely must include the Spider.

It's difficult to overstate how dominant Silva has been. He hasn't lost a fight since New Year's Eve of 2004 (although he suffered a DQ in 2006). I saw that fight in Pride. He lost it on a flying scissor heel hook by Ryo Chonan. I'm not gonna say it was a fluke because I don't know enough about MMA to even recognize a fluke. But I haven't seen one even attempted before or since.

In addition, Phil Baroni knocked Chonan out in a minute forty. Karo Parisyan took him by unanimous decision. Dave Henderson turned his lights out in 22 seconds. That last one is really important because Silva recently became just the second person to ever submit Henderson (the other being heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira). And he did it in the second round.

But it's not just that Silva hasn't been beaten in four years. It's the way he's won.

The five fight UFC Unleashed was a perfect showcase.

First up was the Spider's debut against Chris Leben. Leben is no slouch. He's beaten Patrick Cote, Mike Swick, Terry Martin, and Alessio Sakara. In that Martin fight, he walked right through one of Martin's best shots and Martin has heavy hands. I wouldn't say Leben's elite, but he's a respected fighter and it was Silva's first fight in the UFC.

Didn't matter. Despite that chin and the nerves, it only took Silva 49 seconds to knock Leben out with punches and knees.

Next up was Silva's second UFC fight, the championship bout with Rich Franklin. People forget because Silva annihilated Franklin in that fight and the rematch, but Ace was dominating the middleweights. He was on an eight-fight, two-year win streak that included victories over Nate Quarry, Ken Shamrock, and the late Evan Tanner.

Didn't matter. Those same knees that left Leben face down on the canvas overwhelmed Franklin in the first round.

The third and fourth fights were title defenses. Or they would have been had Travis Lutter made weight for his fight (the third in the showcase). The Lutter fight is remarkable if only because Silva was able to submit a jiu jitsu expert despite apparent over-confidence that had him in serious trouble early on.

The fourth fight was the aforementioned bout with Dave Henderson.

I could write a whole article on what this fight proved about Anderson Silva. Dave Henderson is an even more dangerous version of Randy Couture - an accomplished wrestler with nuclear warheads in his hands. And he was motivated, having just lost a decision to Rampage Jackson for the UFC Light Heavyweight belt.

As I said above, didn't matter. Silva joined his coach Nogueira as the only two men to have submitted Henderson (though Nogueira's done it twice and is a heavyweight).

And then there was the fifth fight. It was a replay of the Spider's most recent fight for which he joined the 205 pounders in the light heavyweight division. Apparently, the Middleweight Champ had gotten bored so he moved up to take on James Irvin, fresh of the fastest knock-out in UFC history. Like Leben, Irvin also boasted a KO of Terry Martin via a flying knee to start the second round. Much like Leben, Irvin is not an elite fight, but he is respected for his athleticism and power.

Silva respected Irvin for 40 seconds and raised his arms in victory after another 21. He moved up in weight-class, fought no push-over, and won in 61 seconds.

So I say enough with the preliminaries. Bring on Fedor Emelianenko.

Sure, Fedor's got Anderson by about 50 pounds. But Silva's actually taller, which means he should have the reach. And Silva is possibly the most surgical striker I have ever seen; praise usually bestowed upon Fedor.

In his fights, you can see Silva catching his opponent's rhythm. He dances and waits, each step getting him a little closer.

It takes him about a minute or so, but he gets it. Then the fists, elbows, knees, and feet start flying. They land with disturbing frequency and land clean. Fedor's the only other fighter I've seen like Silva in this regard and I think Silva's better at it.

Silva is also quicker and has been fighting legitimate challengers rather than drifting around in the ether like Fedor. Of course, Fedor did just dismantle Tim Sylvia - a man who stands 6'8" - in 36 seconds and this is still Fedor Emelianenko we're talking about.

They both fight so effortlessly yet so violently and with such accuracy. It would be a sight to behold.

I don't know who would win and it's not gonna happen since (a) the Spider is UFC while Fedor is not; and (b) why waste the draw power of two such talents by having them fight each other?

But just imagine.

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