What a co-main event we have between two of the best strikers to ever step foot inside the Octagon – Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva (34-8) 1 NC vs ‘The Last Stylebender’ Israel Adesanya (15-0).
It has been said that the winner of this fight will be next in line to fight for the UFC Middleweight Championship. Some speculate on whether or not a win over Silva is worthy of a title shot for Stylebender, and others speculate if a win over Adesanya is worthy of a title shot for The Spider.
Anderson Silva is one of those guys that when he was at his peak, he was considered to be invincible. The way he would just tear through everyone, it was incredible. The list of guys he beat is also quite incredible: KO’d the iron-chinned Chris Leben in his UFC debut, landing 19 of 19 strikes to finish the fight in under a minute, he then KO’d champion Rich Franklin to capture the UFC Middleweight Crown, also in round one, and the rest is really history. He had ten UFC title defenses, and would’ve had 11 had Travis Lutter made weight in his first title defense. 16 straight wins inside the octagon, 14 finishes, he was an absolute ninja!
In addition to having ten title defenses at 185 lbs, he also went up to Light Heavyweight three times, and all three times he scored first-round knockouts, over James Irvin, former UFC Champion Forrest Griffin, and Stephan Bonnar. What many don’t realize, Anderson could have and would have been the first concurrent UFC Champion if he fought Forrest Griffin one fight beforehand, as Griffin had just lost his belt to TUF 2 Heavyweight winner Rashad Evans in the fight prior.
It’s the unreal opportunistic striking ability he possesses that made everyone believe he was unstoppable, and he still has that. Of course, he isn’t everything he used to be at almost 44 years of age, however, he does hone the same abilities he’s shown all of us before. The only difference I see is perhaps his chin isn’t as good anymore, which we were never really sure of because his head movement was so elite, and he doesn’t have much of a killer instinct anymore, as he hasn’t finished anyone since 2012 when he fought a juiced up Stephan Bonnar; and not too many people thought it was a great fight to take because it does nothing for him, but look at Bonnar’s record, the only people he’s ever lost to were current or former UFC Champions, and none of them could finish him.
In his last six fights, he’s gone 1-4 with 1 NC, I’ll just say 2-4 because Nick Diaz also failed the post-fight drug test at UFC 183. His only official win since then was a controversial decision over Derek Brunson (#8), but as I’ve stated before, his fight with Michael Bisping was also controversial for a couple reasons; reason number one is the fact that they fought in England and the judges clearly favoured the hometown guy, though I and many others thought Anderson should’ve won on the scorecards. Reason number two, a lot of people think it shouldn’t have even gone to the cards. Anderson could’ve easily gotten the stoppage when Bisping dropped at 4:58-4:59 of round 3 due to a flying knee, Bisping was still covering up when, and a couple seconds after the buzzer sounded. Regardless, Bisping got the nod on the scorecards and then proceeded to win the belt in his next fight. I just kept thinking, that could’ve been Anderson fighting Rockhold for the belt right now during the Rockhold/Bisping rematch, and still can’t help but wonder how it would’ve gone. I would have absolutely loved that match up!
As for Israel, I’m not sure we’ve ever had someone quite like him. We have some great strikers in the UFC like Edson Barboza who’s 25-3 in kickboxing, Stephen Thompson who’s 57-0 in kickboxing, Darren Till who’s 44-0 in kickboxing, but there seems to be an extra element of special with Israel Adesanya. On the night of UFC 234, he will have been with the UFC for two days shy of a year, and he’s already at this stage. 13 of his 15 wins are knockouts, and he’s already been five rounds, which is great for him. He is 32-0 in amateur kickboxing, 75-5-1 in professional kickboxing, and 5-1 in professional boxing, and he’s fighting a Muay Thai black prajied (belt/strap), and 5th-degree Taekwondo black belt. You could definitely say this is a matchup between two absolute assassins on the feet, the only difference in their skill sets is Anderson has a 3rd-degree black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under the Nogueira brothers, while Israel has a blue belt under Andre Galvao.
Does the winner of this fight deserve a title shot? For both, I say yes, and here’s why:
Aside from Israel (#6), the next guys ranked above are Chris Weidman (#5), who’s had four knockout losses in his last five fights, Kelvin Gastelum (#4), who’s fighting for the belt moments after this fight takes place, Jacare Souza (#3), who is 2-2 in his last four fights and already fought both the champion and challenger, Luke Rockhold (#2), who’s coming off a KO loss and said he’s moving to 205 lbs, and Yoel Romero (#1), who stays at middleweight is also questionable and is 0-2 vs the champion. If Israel defeats Anderson and gets a title shot, whether he wins or loses the title fight, he will still have a bunch of middleweights to keep him busy. If he wins the belt, the division is full of potential contenders to challenge him; if he loses against Whittaker/Gastelum, he still has a bunch of guys he hasn’t fought to work his way back up and continue to grow. As for if Anderson wins, who wouldn’t want to see him fight for the belt again? Anything can happen in an Anderson Silva fight!