Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight kickboxers Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya threw down last night (Sat., Feb. 9, 2019) at UFC 234 inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. It was a weird fight for a weird card — it’s been a couple years since Anderson Silva last stepped into the Octagon. Nevertheless, that appearance did go down in the books as a victory, keeping the former champion somewhat relevant to the Middleweight picture. Not relevant enough to put place in a potential title eliminator like this, but there’s an extra bit of leeway when talking about the most dominant fighter in UFC history. Meanwhile, the stakes grew even higher for Adesanya. With the original main event canceled (details), Adesanya had to seriously impress to receive the next title shot. Essentially, Adesanya needed to win in such an impressive fashion that UFC forgot all about Kelvin Gastelum and the original match up.
Adesanya opened the fight with feints and low kicks, looking to find an opening on the stoic “Spider.” Anderson spent the opening half of the round waiting and watching, occasionally throwing a low kick. At about the midway point, he did explode forward in combination, but the result was a couple hard counter strikes from Adesanya.
After that explosion, Silva was more active on offense, and did land a couple left hands as a result. However, Adesanya was the more active man, and his feints were working wonderfully. In particular, Adesanya did a great job of switching stances and immediately firing a cross from his new stance, a tactic which saw him land a few times.
It was a strong round from Adesanya, but Silva was not completely out-matched.
Things heated up in the second. Adesanya continued his patient pressure, and occasionally his straight shots found a home. More often, it was the low kicks from both Southpaw and Orthodox that slammed home. Silva was far more aggressive and active in the middle five minutes though. His right jab connected a number of times, and Silva’s left body kick did some damage too. On the whole, Silva was far more willing to chase after his opponent, and he did not get rocked at all in the second.
It was very possibly tied up with five minutes remaining.
Unfortunately for “Spider” fans, Silva slowed it back down in the third. Despite the fight being potentially up for grabs, Silva really took his foot off the gas, conceding the center of the Octagon once more. Adesanya kept up his wide array of offense, but it was really the low kicks and straight shots that did the majority of his work. With Silva fighting from his back foot, he was really relying on the perfect counter strike landing, but it just didn’t happen.
Instead, Adesanya kept the volume high for a clear-cut victory.
There was a lot of brilliance on display from Adesanya, but it’s all about fundamentals. Adesanya won this fight with volume and feints more than anything else. Even in his 40s, Silva is still remarkably difficult to hit. As such, throwing a lot of strikes — SAFELY, which is why Adesanya hung back at the edge of his own range to avoid getting hammered with one he didn’t see coming — gives him a better job of landing. Those feints dulled Silva’s timing and helped keep him safe as well.
Targeting the leg so heavily was smart, as Silva is very willing to eat a low kick for a chance at countering. Similarly, all the straight shots from both Southpaw and Orthodox made sense. Silva tries to overload opponents with all his hand and head movement, but often a straight shot directly at the target is still the best chance at landing clean.
It may not earn him an immediate title shot, but Adesanya keeps rolling forward.
As for Silva, I’ll be honest and say this was far more than I expected of the Brazilian legend. In the first round, he turned up the aggression and his eyes rolled back from a counter right hook — I thought it was over then, and that was the result I expected. Instead, Silva stayed composed, rallied, and came alive in the second round. Silva landed some serious counter shots, hard right jabs, and cracking body kicks in the second. He very arguably won that round against perhaps the sport’s premier striker.
If nothing else, that’s an accomplishment.
I don’t know why Silva was passive in the third. It could’ve been fatigue, or a sense that Adesanya had his timing down. It’s also possible is that Silva was betting everything on that perfect counter strike landing, which is a bad bet for just about anyone in the fight game, but understandable for the man who made his career by finding openings. Either way, all credit to the former champion for showing there’s still something left in the tank.
Last night at UFC 234, Israel Adesanya scored the better shots over 15 minutes. Who should “Stylebender” face next?
For complete UFC 234: “Silva vs. Adesanya” results and play-by-play, click HERE!
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