UFC 134 results: Anderson Silva is the best fighter you've ever seen, period

You've seen him knock out the iron-chined Chris Leben. You've seen seen rearrange Rich Franklin's face on two occasions. You've seen him weather the storms of Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen before submitting each fighter.

You've seen him beat every single fighter inside the Octagon that has stood opposite him. From every middleweight fighter that's been lucky/unlucky enough to string together two or three wins to light heavyweights James Irvin and Forrest Griffin who each suffered brutal, embarrassing knockouts.

And last night, you saw him completely dismantle the last man to hold a win over him. Yushin Okami also happened to be the 185-pound division's last card to play in a game it can't seem to win.

How do you beat Anderson Silva?

It seems you can't. At least not anymore.

Simply stated, Anderson Silva is the best fighter that our young sport has seen and that doesn't seem likely to change in a good while.

Back on April 14 of this year, "The Spider" celebrated his 36th birthday. At an age where a fighter's skill set should be deteriorating as time ravages their body, Silva seems as sharp as ever.

His reflexes haven't slowed, his strength hasn't been sapped. If anything, the middleweight king is aging like a fine wine and getting better as the years roll by.

His performances over Okami last night and Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 are proof of this. In February, he outstruck the striker, landing an unbelievable front snap kick that removed "The Phenom" from his consciousness. And a little over 12 hours ago, he refused to let "Thunder" bully him around as his training partner Chael Sonnen did last year.

Some might point to that fight with Sonnen as proof that the Brazilian is not infallible and can certainly be beaten. The wrestler took Silva down repeatedly and was even able to score on his feet, landing a punch that staggered the champ.

But in the end, Silva's hand was raised. He took 23 minutes of punishment and still managed to earn the win and keep his belt.

That's what champions do. That's what legends are remembered for.

Aside from a no-contest, Fedor Emelianenko shares the exact same win/loss record as Silva. Both have tasted the sweet nectar of victory 31 times and choked down the bitterness of a loss four times.

The difference being that Silva's losses -- minus the disqualification loss to Okami -- all came within 18 months of each other in what has become the middle portion of his career. Since his submission loss to Ryo Chonan at the end of 2004, Silva has been on an upward trajectory with no end to his ascent in sight.

Emelianenko, on the other hand, has suffered a steep drop-off in potency since his loss to Fabricio Werdum. His three consecutive losses have "The Last Emperor" free falling in a sport he once ruled with an iron fist. 

Some would argue that Emelianenko is on the losing side of a war with Father Time and that mixed martial arts (MMA) has passed him by. "He's too old," they'll say in an attempt to explain why the man who went undefeated for a decade suddenly can't seem to find a way to win.

The Russian is 34-years old, two years younger than Silva.

Before Georges St. Pierre became unwilling -- or unable -- to finish the men who stood opposite him inside the Octagon, the debate over who was the Great Of All Time -- or the G.O.A.T. -- was a three-horse race.

You had those who argued in favor of "Rush," pointing to his domination over one of the sport's deepest weight divisions. There were pundits and fans who gave the title to Emelianenko whose resume as a heavyweight simply cannot be matched. And finally, Silva also had a claim to the crown as he destroyed each and every opponent he fought.

As GSP won dominant -- but plodding -- decision after decision, his name become less and less pronounced in the argument. In fact, it's taken the Russian's losses -- which have removed him from the debate -- to allow the welterweight champ to once again be considered.

But St. Pierre is not Silva's equal. Domination is one thing; decimation is something else entirely.

After last night's main event, Dana White said, "[Silva] makes the 185-pound division look weak. Anybody who even tries to debate that this guy isn't the best in the world pound-for-pound is out of their mind."

White is equal parts promoter and fight fan. A modern day carnival barker, he will shout at the top of his lungs whatever he thinks will be best for the UFC. Fedor won't sign with the promotion? He sucks. Chael Sonnen up to his ears in legal matters? Suspend him to save some public relations face.

But this 21st century P.T. Barnum need not hyperbolize Silva's accomplishments or status.

What Anderson Silva has done during his stint as UFC middleweight champion hasn't been close to being matched by any other fighter. It might not ever be matched for all we know.

If the sport continues to grow as exponentially as it has the past decade, you can fully expect to discuss with the future generation of fans how a prime Anderson Silva would fare against their current crop of champions.

It comes with the territory of being the G.O.A.T.

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