History in the making: Anderson Silva makes his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut by strangling Raimundo Pinheiro

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

A legend is an old man with a cane known for what he used to do. I'm still doing it. --Miles Davis

In June of 1997, Batman & Robin was the number one movie at the box office, while Spice Girls had the world's best selling album with "Spice."

It's easy to see why that's an exit not frequently taken on the trip down memory lane.

But something else happened that month that would have a profound impact on the combat sports world. In a small ring in front of an even smaller crowd, Anderson Silva made his mixed martial arts (MMA) debut at Brazilian Freestyle Circuit from Campo Grande in Mato Grosso Do Sul, Brazil.

As a welterweight.

Just 22 years old, "The Spider" was paired off against 1-1 rookie Raimundo Pinheiro on June 25, 1997, for the right to advance to the main event to challenge future Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight Fabricio Camoes, who graduated to headliner by pounding out Eliezer Silvestre in the opening fight of the night.

Like Silva, "Morango" -- just 18 at the time -- was also making his pro debut.

But that clash was hardly a foregone conclusion. While it's easy to take Silva's dominance for granted, considering his undefeated run through the world's toughest cagefighting promotion, no one really knew what to expect from the long and lanky Brazilian.

Perhaps not even Silva.

Ironically enough, the former Shooto champion found himself on his back in the opening minute of round one, effortlessly taken down by a haphazard shoot from Pinheiro. Takedown defense has been widely-accepted as Silva's one and only weakness, exploited in fights against Dan Henderson at UFC 82 and then again by Chael Sonnen at UFC 117.

Not that it did either of them any good.

Both "Hendo" and "The American Gangster" were choked out for their efforts, as the Brazilian's jiu-jitsu proved to be the great equalizer on the ground. This was a lesson learned as early as the Pinheiro fight, as Silva curled, crawled and clung his way into a dominant position.

Just like a spider.

Pinheiro was finished off at the 1:53 mark of the opening frame by way of rear naked choke, pushing Silva into a grueling 25-minute battle against Camoes, one that saw the future hall of famer claim by way of technical knockout (TKO) due to retirement.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Whether or not history is rewritten this Saturday night -- or just soldiers on uninterrupted -- largely depends on how well the now 38 year-old "Spider" can deal with a young and hungry challenger named Chris Weidman, who looks to join an elite club at UFC 162 this Saturday night (July 6, 2013) at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

We shall see.

For a closer look at his opponent's rise to power click here.

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