It was a historic year for mixed martial arts - the sport exploded in popularity on prime time TV - and especially for Anderson Silva. By defending his middleweight belt for the ninth time, "The Spider" won the fight of the year against Japan's Yushin Okami in Brazil, and was proclaimed the greatest athlete in the history of MMA.
"I know that my victories helped the success in the sport. I'm glad that people talk on the streets, that the academies sign up new students. We need new idols," says the 36 year old fighter.
The accolades continue to pour in for UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, who was named "Man of the Year" by GQ Brazil. "The Spider" is currently sidelined while recuperating from a shoulder injury and isn't expected back inside the Octagon until June 2012. When he does return, expect a pack of hungry 185-pounders to be waiting for him.