The Ultimate Fighting Championship makes its long-awaited return to the country of Brazil this Saturday (August 27). It's a country that -- along with Japan -- helped form the sport we all know and love. Mixed martial arts' (MMA) brutal origins in vale tudo are an integral part of its history as are many of Brazil's native sons. As we head towards UFC 134: "Silva vs. Okami," Viva Brazil! will serve as a celebration of some of those countrymen and a look back at historic moments in the sport involving them.
You have given us so much and have asked for so little. And now, the UFC finally returns to your beautiful country after 13 years.
It seems unfair that you had to wait so long when your country has produced stars like Royce Gracie, Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, Thiago Alves and of course, the greatest of them all, Anderson Silva.
If "The Spider" gets the win tonight (Aug. 27, 2011) against Yushin Okami, there's very little standing between him and greatest of all time -- or G.O.A.T. -- status. He also gets a chance to avenge his last loss, a disqualification after landing an illegal upkick to Okami during a tournament in Hawaii. Beyond that, Silva hasn't lost in nearly seven years.
He doesn't just beat opponents, either. He destroys them. He breaks them Ivan Drago-style. And there's no better example than when he took on Forrest Griffin at UFC 101: "Declaration."
In the final Viva Brazil!, we'll take a look at the fight before we order our pizzas, crack open our beers and enjoy a night of fights that is long overdue.
Silva had run through every single 185-pounder that they put in front of him. Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt and Dan Henderson highlighted his early tenure as champ. But when gaudy t-shirt maker Affliction turned overspending MMA promoter, the UFC decided to fight fire with fire.
Affliction's first show -- appropriately named "Banned" after the UFC pulled the sponsorship plug on them -- was headlined by former UFC heavyweight champ Tim Sylvia taking on perpetual thorn in Dana White's side, Fedor Emelianenko. So what does the UFC do? They book a free card on Spike TV with who they claimed was the real greatest fighter in the world, Anderson Silva.
But this wasn't a normal fight for "The Spider." He was moving up in weight to 205 pounds and taking on James Irvin. In one minute, "The Sandman" was put to sleep in impressive fashion.
Silva then went back to 185-pounds to defend his belt against less than stellar competition. Two absolute stinkers against Patrick Cote and Thales Leites had the once beloved knockout (KO) artist in the role of the pariah. While Emelianenko was knocking fools out dirty (see: Andrei Arlovski), Silva was goofing around.
So what did the UFC do? Its line of thinking must have been, "Well, the last time he was awesome was when he fought at 205-pounds. So ... let's have him fight at that weight again?"
So that's exactly what the promotion did. And it was against someone -- no disrespect to Irvinm but he's no world beater -- who had legitimate light heavyweight credentials. He took Tito Ortiz to the distance. Choked out "Shogun." Beat Quinton Jackson. He was a formerly ranked number one light heavyweight with a run as champ to boot.
Forrest Griffin stepped up and took the fight. Oh, you brave fool.
Both fighters are patient in the first minute until Griffin throws a body kick that is caught and nearly countered by the Brazilian. A minute later marks the beginning of the end for the former champ.
As he circles away, "The Spider" catches him with a hook that drops the American. He's quickly back to his feet and once he resets, he shakes his head as if to think, "I can't believe I got caught by that." Oh, Forrest, there'll be a few more of those moments before the fight is done.
The two exchange twice and the Brazilian begins to pound his chest, egging his opponent -- and the crowd -- on. The audience is loving this. They're instantly remembering why they loved watching Silva fight in the first place.
Equal parts The Matrix and rainbow magic, Silva dodges, dips, ducks, dives and dodges away from everything Griffin throws and drops him with a straight right to the jaw.
He throws some ground and pound but allows his opponent back to his feet. Hands at his waist, "The Spider" is doing his best Rick James impersonation while treating Griffin's striking like Eddie Murphy's couch.
What follows is one of the most baller KOs ever.
Silva went up in weight and made a former champion look like a fool. That would be like if Georges St. Pierre went up to 185-pounds and knocked out Rich Franklin. Now ask yourself: how likely is that to happen?
Tonight is extremely important to "The Spider." He can put the middleweight division to bed. In fact, all that is left for him in that weight classes are rematches. He's decimated his entire weight class and done so while the talent pool is as deep as its ever been.
Oh, hell yeah.
Gifs via mmagif.blogspot.com