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Thursday, 09/13/2012, 01:40 pm

Anderson Silva & Co. Show What it Means to be an Ultimate Fighter

 

It wasn’t that long ago that people were growing disenchanted with Anderson Silva. After lackluster performances against Thales Leites and Patrick Cote, Silva walked into the Octagon at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi and embarrassed himself, the sport, his opponent and the UFC. All talk of a potential super fight against UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre was put on hold.

Then Chael Sonnen came along and took Silva to task for his actions and told everyone who would listen that Silva was bad for the sport and was overrated. He also predicted that he would kick Silva’s ass when the two met at UFC 117 in August of 2010 and he pretty much backed up those words. Sonnen may have lost via triangle choke midway through the fifth and final round, but he took the fight to Silva in a way no one had ever seen before during his four year run in the UFC.

Something in Silva reawakened after that fight as he blew through Vitor Belfort at UFC 126 in February of 2011 and Yushin Okami in August later that same year. He looked like the Silva of old and seemed like he was intent on showing people that he was still the best fighter in the world. A man of very few words, Silva let his actions inside the cage do the talking and they sure spoke volumes. He defeated two of the best middleweights in the world without breaking a sweat.

Up next was the rematch with Sonnen who launched an even stronger verbal barrage at the long time middleweight champion. The American Gangster’s words seemed to have gotten under Silva’s skin as he threatened to break every bone in Sonnen’s body during a conference call and even thrust his shoulder into Sonnen’s jaw when the two stared off after weighing-in for their bout at UFC 148 this past July. After Sonnen controlled the first round Silva made short work of his arch nemesis knocking him out in the second round and showing once again that he hasn’t lost a step.

His physical attributes have never been in question, if anything they have gotten him by during the times when he seemed disenchanted with who was  inside the cage with him. Even after the second Sonnen bout Silva has questioned the legitimacy of the potential contenders lining up to try and finally knock him off his perch. Some fans grew upset wondering why he wouldn’t face who the UFC put in front of him and allow the fight to dictate whether or not his opponent was worthy of a shot at his crown.

Then UFC 151 imploded and the UFC was in a bind. Jon Jones refused to fight Sonnen on eight days notice and the UFC was left scrambling to try and save the event. Unfortunately for the organization and for the fans Silva heard about the situation a bit too late. Once he found out that the company that had helped make him into a star and helped him earn millions of dollars was in dire trouble, Silva offered to step up to try and save the day. The middleweight title holder offered to fight any other 205lb fighter on just eight days notice.

Dana White made sure that the media knew about Silva’s attempt and to be honest with you I for one am glad that he did. Not that I ever believed Silva was a selfish fighter, but when I heard that he was willing to fly to Vegas from Brazil and fight an unknown opponent on eight days notice I had a new found respect for him. Guys like Silva don’t come around too often, fighters who can transcend the sport in the fashion he has are few and far between. Now here he was willing to do whatever was necessary to try and pay the UFC back.Coincidentally talk of a fight with GSP has gained some steam in recent weeks with White even saying the fight would take place in Cowboys Stadium.

As luck would have it, UFC 153 got hit hard losing both the co-main event and main event bouts in the span of 24 hours. UFC Featherweight Champion Jose Aldo was forced out of his title defense against Frankie Edgar due to a foot injury he sustained in a motorcycle accident and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson was forced out of his fight with Glover Teixeira because of an elbow injury. Here we were less than a month from the cancellation of UFC 151 and the UFC was once again in serious trouble. How do you go about replacing the top two bouts on a card with a month left before it is scheduled to go off?

Silva once again stepped up and will take on Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight match-up that while may not be as exciting as the Edgar-Aldo bout, is still big enough to save the card. Silva and Bonnar both deserve a lot of credit here for taking this fight. For Silva he has absolutely nothing to gain and for Bonnar he may be fighting for the last time and odds are he won’t look pretty doing it, but that’s what fighters do, they fight. Bonnar is a guy who will go in to the cage and look to entertain the fans, he knows he’s the underdog, but this is what he wanted. He has stated he was looking for one last meaningful fight and he has it, win or lose he’s going out against one of the best.

Let’s not forget Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Dave Herman and Fabio Maldonaldo who weren’t scheduled for this event, but signed on with just one month to prepare. Teixeira was training for this card, but he was preparing to face Jackson and while he’s probably in shape, a change in opponent is still a change in opponent. It all started with Edgar jumping at the chance to face Aldo once Erik Koch was injured even though he had never fought as a featherweight before and continued with all of the fighters who have helped save UFC 153. These men have shown that it still means something to be a mixed martial artist.

Nothing against Jon Jones, but you know Dana White is somewhere smiling! Whether you agreed with Jones decision or not, it doesn’t help his cause when so many other athletes have jumped at the opportunity to help the UFC out when they needed them most. Let’s give credit where credit is due and that goes to all the fighters who step in the cage and put their bodies on the line to entertain us; on short notice or not.

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