In the fight game, whether it's boxing or mixed martial arts, no matter how dominant a champion is, there is always a challenger out there that poses a threat. The one guy that has some fans starting to believe, the champion may finally have met his match. Such was the case with UFC 126: Silva vs. Belfort, or so we thought.
It took middleweight (185 lbs.) champion, Anderson 'The Spider' Silva, now (28-4, 16 KO's 5 subs), a little over three minutes to quell any thoughts that he is not the number one pound for pound fighter in the world. Facing off against the one guy who finally had hands who were even more lethal than his in Vitor 'The Phenom' Belfort (19-9, 13 KO's 2 subs), Silva (pictured above) didn't need his hands at all. Instead, he used a front kick to the chin that showed the proof is in the pudding.
With a very cautious start from two heavy-handed punchers, the first three minutes of the fight saw no action other than the fighters circling each other measuring striking distance. Then after a quick exchange that saw Silva fall, but able to get up right away, 'The Spider' threw a front kick from the back leg that caught Belfort flush on the chin, which all but had him out before he hit the mat. Silva, realizing his opponent was pretty much helpless, showed mercy in hesitating to pounce on him and hit him flush with a left and right hand before the referee jumped in to end it at 3:25 of the first round. Belfort must have thought Silva had eight legs like a spider because he never saw the kick coming.
Silva, a true martial artist in every sense of the word, showed immediate compassion as he went to Belfort while still on his back and cradled him to express his true feelings towards his downed opponent. At the weigh-ins the day before, Silva provoked a heated exchange between the two fighters; but understanding there's a fine line between martial arts etiquette of respect and putting on a show for the promotion of the fight, he masterfully weaves his web between the two worlds.
Now that he's pretty much cleaned out his division of all viable challengers, other than Yushin Okami, which is another story, what's next for 'The Spider'? According to UFC President Dana White, it's a potential showdown against welterweight (170 lbs.) champion Georges St. Pierre, probably at a catch-weight. That is assuming St. Pierre defeats title challenger Jake Shields in April. St. Pierre, the other fighter that is argued as the best in the world pound for pound, will no doubt be the next challenger that is labeled as "the guy" who will finally defeat Silva. As great as St. Pierre is though, I can't see him matching up with Silva who is a huge middleweight that has fought numerous times at light-heavyweight (205 lbs.).
Speaking of light-heavyweights and guys that are huge for their weight class, Forrest Griffin (18-6, 3 KO's 7 subs) used his superior size and strength to garner a unanimous decision against former middleweight champion Rich 'Ace' Franklin (28-6, 15 KO's, 10 subs). After a first round that found Franklin in survival mode for four minutes after Griffin got on top of him on the ground, he was never able to mount any type of attack against the much stronger former light-heavyweight champion. To show Anderson Silva's true dominance, he has wins over both of these former champions in devastating fashion with brutal knockouts; in Franklin's case it was twice.
In the other light-heavyweight feature of the night, Jon 'Bones' Jones (12-1, 7 KO's 3 subs) continued to show his versatility as he submitted previously undefeated Ryan 'Darth' Bader (12-1, 5 KO's 3 subs) via guillotine choke in the second round. Jones, who has been tabbed as the next future star of MMA, has found out his future is now. In the post-fight interview with Joe Rogan, Jones was told that due to an injury sustained by teammate Rashad Evans, which forces Evans out of his title fight against champion Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua next month, Jones will now get that shot. Since he came out of this fight virtually unscathed, it appears the fight date will still be March 19.
Finally, in the first fight of the night, former World Extreme Cagefighting Bantamweight (135 lbs.) Champion Miguel Torres (39-3, 9 KO's 23 subs) used his sizeable height and reach advantage to outbox Antonio Banuelos (18-7, 7 KO's 1 sub) en route to a unanimous decision. Torres an unbelievable 5'9" for a bantamweight, was six inches taller than his opponent and used every inch of it as he kept Banuelos at bay with a stinging left jab and right cross combination all night. Now training under St. Pierre's trainer Firas Zahabi, Torres showed a renewed discipline in his fight approach.