When he was at the peak of his prowess, there was little doubt that Anderson Silva was one of MMA’s legendary talents. The ‘Spider’ racked up 10 defenses of his middleweight title during a 17-fight unbeaten streak stretching from April 2006 to October of 2012. Of those victories, only two opponents ever saw the final bell. Silva ruled the UFC’s middleweight division like none before him or since.
Time, however, is rarely kind to fighters, and the next eight years of Silva’s MMA career did some serious work to diminish those achievements. Silva had just one win over that stretch (a second over Nick Diaz was overturned due to a failed drug test). And eventually, following a KO loss to Uriah Hall in October of 2020, he and the promotion that had been his home for almost fifteen years parted ways, .
Fortunately, the last year outside the Octagon has been far kinder to the ‘Spider’ than fans might have expected. Silva took his first pro boxing bout in more than 20 years, winning a split decision over former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. A remarkable feat, considering Silva is more than a decade older than the long time pro boxer. And he followed that up with a first round KO of fellow former UFC champion Tito Ortiz, just this past weekend, on September 11th—on the undercard of Triller’s PPV event featuring Evander Holyfield vs. Vitor Belfort.
It seems those performances have done some serious image rehabilitation in the mind of at least on fan, none other than UFC president Dana White. White may have blasted Triller and anyone “f-cking dumb enough and willing to pay and watch these f-cking fights,” during a press conference following the latest Contender Series event, but he had nothing but kind words for Silva and the legacy the Brazilian was leaving behind (transcript via MMA Fighting).
“Anderson Silva, we honestly need to start talking again about this guy as the GOAT,” White stated. “Not Tito, because he knocked Tito out in 40 f-ckin’ seconds, but he did to Tito exactly what should be done to Tito. Knocking Tito out in 40 seconds is what should’ve happened in that fight. Anderson Silva beat Julio Chavez Jr., at, what, 46? At 46 f-ckin years old, he left this sport where he was considered one of the greatest of all-time, possibly even the greatest of all-time, goes out, beats Chavez Jr. in a boxing match, then goes and knocks Tito out in 40 seconds.
“And, you know how I feel about Tito personally, Tito can’t box. He’s a horrible boxer and that’s why I said I would box him, but the other thing about Tito is when he fought here, Tito had a good chin. Tito took big shots from a lot of guys who hit hard. Anderson Silva knocked him out in 40 seconds.
“Anderson Silva might actually be the GOAT of combat sports.”
White went on to push for the idea that Jake Paul should take on Silva next, if he’s looking for a stiffer test of his boxing prowess—responding to the celebrity pugilist’s interest in a fight with Jorge Masvidal by reaffirming that ‘Gamebred’ is still under contract with the UFC, but “Anderson’s out.”
Paul most recently faced former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley in a pro boxing bout on Showtime, back in August. Paul won the fight via split decision. Paul also faced former UFC welterweight Ben Askren earlier this year, defeating ‘Funky’ Ben via first round KO. Lately the former Disney actor and YouTube star has been targeting a fight against Tommy Fury, half brother of noted heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Still, it’s hard not to think that a fight with Silva may be somewhere in the cards in the not too distant future.