History in the making: Anderson Silva makes his UFC light heavyweight debut

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

On July 19, 2008, UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva would enter the Octagon as a light heavyweight to help ZUFFA counter-program the Affliction: "Banned" pay-per-view. Set to greet him was rugged veteran James Irvin, whose "Sandman" nickname seemed oddly fitting after "The Spider" put him to sleep.

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White needed help.

With just weeks to go before his next major televised mixed martial arts (MMA) event, he needed to find a name big enough to carry the promotion's upcoming fight card. UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, a few months removed from yet another dominating title defense, learned of the vacancy and volunteered to step in as a light heavyweight headliner.

Now all White needed was someone crazy enough to fight him.

He got the man he was looking for. A scrappy veteran coming off back-to-back wins, who was good on the ground but loved nothing more than to stand and bang. And when he heard "The Spider" was brazen enough to move up in weight to entertain the fans, he promised to do likewise:

"I'm gonna stand there and trade and I'll take one to give one. In this case I might have to take two to give one. There's nothing he can do that I'm afraid of. I'm not afraid of him taking me down. That would be a shame, wouldn't it? He's a showman. He moved up to 205 to make a point. Maybe he feels like he ran through the 185 division and now he's gonna start picking off the 205 guys. If anything, I kind of feel like a representative of the light heavyweight division. I want this guy to know there is a reason we have weight classes."

That was James Irvin, two weeks before his fight against the Brazilian at UFC Fight Night 14.

"The Sandman" sprung into action to help ZUFFA counter-program the Affliction: "Banned" pay-per-view (PPV) event on July 19, 2008. In addition to Silva vs. Irvin, top prospects and future division titleholders Cain Velasquez and Frankie Edgar would also be showcased on network television.

Ah, the good old days.

Irvin made good on his prior promise to stand and trade. Unfortunately, it got him knocked clean out by a "Spider" counterpunch. There isn't much to account for in terms of play-by-play, as the fight produced just a handful of strikes and ended in 61 seconds. It did, however, manage to produce another Mike Goldberg "ism" for his ever-growing collection.

"He's so fluid, Joe, his angles are perfect. His precision is, uh, really precise."

After such a successful UFC debut at 205 pounds, Silva would return to the heavier weight class just over a year later at UFC 101 in Philadelphia, where he planished former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin en route to another first round finish.

This Saturday night, he tries for the hat trick.

Standing in front of the net is the rough-and-tumble Stephan Bonnar, who joins the hometown hero in his quest to fill another main event gap on short notice. The action begins at UFC 153 on Saturday night (Oct. 13, 2012) at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Will "The American Psycho" make history this weekend in Rio? Or will history repeat itself for the 185-pound "Spider?"

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