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Hero Worship of Anderson Silva

It's already begun.

I'm being excoriated for my view, but I don't care: Anderson Silva is still very beatable. I'll admit we've only seen tiny glimpses of his weaknesses, but those windows into his foibles were troubling.

For starters, I realize the performance Silva put on Saturday night was nothing short of spectacular, but so what? He defeated a fighter he had already defeated and arguably didn't do it as well as he did the first time. That is ostensibly why he deserves comparisons to Fedor as being the pound-for-pound best fighter in MMA?

"But Luke," you say, "it's not just that he beat Rich Franklin. It's the way he beat Rich. He defeated a more prepared, more seasoned Rich Franklin and did it with deadly accuracy, awesome angles, and precision striking. Why are you being so obstinate?"

I'll tell you why: after every fight, assessments about fighters abilities go wildly off the mark. Amazing tacticians who earn a defeat turn into predictable B-level grapplers. Formerly second tier sluggers turn into steely-eyed badasses after wins. The pendulum on assessments swings wildly after fights and I'm not buying into it at all. People lather themselves in the glory of wins and wash the stink of defeat, but neither outlook is sane nor prudent.

I will give Silva the win over Marquardt. That's a quality win over a guy who posed a style problem for him. But that's not the end of the story. For starters, we know he can be submitted. That's a given. His black belt notwithstanding, most people would agree the best chance anyone has of defeating The Spider comes by way of submission. Second, and more importantly, there are still questions about Silva's wrestling and ability to perform off of his back.

Silva's takedown defense is less than impressive. If you can close the distance and avoid the Thai plum, chances are you can take him to the ground. Lutter, Marquardt, Franklin, Okami, Takase, Otsuka, Carneiro, and Horn (among others) were all able to get Silva to the mat. Some decent wrestlers in there, but not all of them. You can say none of them were able to do much with the takedown and I'd agree. Silva's hard to beat standing or on the ground. But there's a difference between what these fighters can offer and what Matt Lindland and Dan Henderson can.

Again, assuming they don't get blasted coming in, the takedown is a given. Lindland's been crucified for his lay-n-pray performances, but he also submission. He even subbed Lutter. If he couldn't get the TKO stoppage he could get the sub. While Henderson doesn't posses the submission acumen that Lindland does, it may not matter. When Lutter took the mount on Silva at UFC 67, that was a scary moment. Lutter was terribly weakened and couldn't finish, but Silva's defense was atrocious. He's a tough bastard and ate a lot of shots to the face, but raising your arms (even if they're long) to defend strikes when you're mounted is a no-no in BJJ 101. You essentially give your opponent the arm bar. Maybe Henderson gets that, maybe he doesn't, but the point is Silva can be pressured to leave lots of openings on the ground.

Maybe there are only two or three fighters in the world who can defeat Silva. I'm willing to concede that. But I'm not willing to crown him anything he wasn't before this fight. If you didn't think he was pound-for-pound the best prior to this match, then you can't do it now. And until he defeats another Filho or a Trigg or a Henderson or a Lindland - fighters that can keep Silva on his back for 5 rounds - the jury is still out on how long he can hold his belt.

All hail King Silva? Not quite yet.

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