Former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, who is now an MMA analyst for ESPN, is quick to lend his opinion on the latest combat sports debates, like what should happen with the 265-pound division now that Francis Ngannou is sidelined with surgery.
Today’s topic centers on UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who looks to retain his 185-pound strap by turning away Robert Whittaker in the UFC 271 pay-per-view (PPV) main event a week from Sat. night (Feb. 12, 2022) in Houston, Texas.
No, beating “The Reaper” does not make “The Last Stylebender” the greatest of all time.
“Dude, Anderson Silva existed,” Cormier told a fan on ESPN (via MMA Fighting). “Anderson Silva existed, like, I don’t get this recency bias that fans have. Guys, you can’t just—honestly, I think the word GOAT gets thrown around way too easy in fight sports. You’ve got to really—the only person that doesn’t get passed is Muhammad Ali. There have been really impressive fighters, but people recognize what Muhammad Ali was. Anderson Silva was to MMA what Muhammad Ali was to boxing. No, Izzy has some work to do to catch Anderson.”
Heading into his Whittaker rematch, the 32 year-old Adesanya (21-1) is 10-1 under the UFC banner. Despite a perfect record at 185 pounds, “The Last Stylebender” was unsuccessful in his bid to dethrone then-champion Jan Blachowicz at 205 pounds.
Silva, who also wore the middleweight strap, smashed a trio of light heavyweights during his prime. Like many fighters, the aging Brazilian would suffer a late-career collapse, which includes his decision loss to Adesanya at UFC 234 in late 2019 when “The Spider” was already 44 years old.
Cormier also topped Silva by decision at UFC 200 back in summer 2016.
“I looked across the Octagon and I knew that I was fighting Anderson at UFC 200,” Cormier continued. “We did the staredowns for the weigh-ins and I was like, ‘Wow, I’m fighting Anderson Silva.’ Then when we got in the Octagon I was like ‘Holy shit, that’s Anderson Silva.’ It was like, the levels just kept going up in terms of appreciation for who he was to the sport of MMA. Anderson Silva is the MMA, mixed martial arts goat at 185. It’ll be a long time before someone passes him.”
Personally, I think Adesanya needs to beat this middleweight before we start talking about “best ever.”