Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight finishers Anderson Silva and Derek Brunson collided last night (Feb. 11, 2017) at UFC 208 inside Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Officially, it’s been five years since Anderson Silva has won a fight. Now, he has lost to four fights to champions and one victory was overturned, but the bottom line is that “The Spider” really needed to come out on top of this contest.
Brunson was in an interesting position with this match up. To be frank, his performance in his most recent fight prior was a bit embarrassing ... likely the worst of his career. However, faced with the former divisional kingpin, Brunson could erase the memory of that loss with his the biggest win of his career.
Like many of Silva’s past fights, the bout opened with a lot of waiting from both athletes. Silva scored first with some nice counter punches, finding his range pretty quickly. Despite the rough start, Brunson began to find some success. He landed some hard low kicks from the outside and while his takedowns failed, it allowed him to get into the clinch. From that range, Brunson scored a lot of hard punches. Silva came back near the end of the bout, but he also wound up on his back falling a failed jump knee.
It was an extremely close round.
After another period of inactivity, Silva began to connect on his counter punches. He then started to pursue the wrestling, allowing Brunson to change levels and take his opponent to the mat briefly. Silva returned to his feet, but Brunson was able to control him from the clinch and land some decent strikes before Silva broke away.
Silva loosened up and went to work in the final minute, but even then he didn’t throw more than a few strikes. He landed pretty much whenever he threw, but Silva threw at a pretty low pace overall.
Once again, it was a close round, but Brunson was the aggressor.
Both men were tired heading into the third round, but it actually lead to the two engaging far more. Brunson was unable to effectively close range anymore, so the two traded blows from distance.
With both men landing at a high pace, Brunson took the initiative to change things. He ducked down into a takedown and was able to spin around towards the back, forcing Silva to the mat. Silva played his usual defensive guard for the rest of the bout, limiting Brunson’s ability to do damage, but allowing the younger man to control him until the final bell.
At the end of 15 hard minutes, Anderson Silva was awarded the unanimous decision victory.
To be completely honest, I don’t quite understand the argument for Silva winning this bout. He landed some decent shots, but his opponent out-landed and out-wrestled him for the majority of three rounds. Silva hits hard, sure, but the heaviest shots of the bout came from Brunson cracking his the Brazilian in the clinch.
Were his strikes really that definitive?
Either way, Silva did do some things very well in this match. When the Brazilian threw, his strikes were dangerous and fast. His timing was still on point, as Silva rarely whiffed on punches when he committed to them.
Perhaps most impressively, Silva’s takedown defense really appeared to be better than ever. From the clinch, he nullified all of Brunson’s attempts before they even started, and his sprawl was heavier than in past bouts. Brunson had some really decent takedown attempts, but Silva rejected his shots frequently.
Following this win, Silva’s future is uncertain. His post-fight interview sounded curiously similar to a retirement speech, but there are definitely interesting fights available to “The Spider” if he wants them.
As for Brunson, this has to be massively disappointing. He fought well, limiting his recklessness and finding his way into exchanges where he could do damage. Brunson was the more active striker and superior wrestler, which is almost always enough to earn the decision win.
Unfortunately for Brunson, he’s now lost his last two bouts. He’s still a top 10 fighter, but Brunson will need another couple wins to get back into the title picture. Next time around, a bout with Thales Leites would make sense.
Last night at UFC 208, Anderson Silva scraped past Derek Brunson in a competitive bout. Where will the former champion go from here?
For complete UFC 208: “Holm vs de Randamie” results and play-by-play, click HERE!