This weekend – assuming all goes to plan – should mark the end of the career of one of the UFC’s greatest-ever stars. Former UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva is all set to face Uriah Hall in the main event of UFC Vegas 12, and win or lose, ‘The Spider’ has promised to hang up his gloves.
Anderson Silva has been with the UFC since 2006 and won the UFC Middleweight title in his second fight with the promotion. From there, the Brazilian went on to record ten straight successful title defenses and held the title for seven years before finally dropping it.
Anderson Silva still holds a number of UFC records to this day, including the most Knockout of the Night awards and the most knockdowns in UFC history. However, there are probably plenty of things fans don’t know about ‘The Spider’.
Here are five fascinating facts that UFC fans may not know about Anderson Silva.
#1 Anderson Silva was supposed to debut in the UFC in 2001
By the time he signed with the UFC in 2006, Anderson Silva already held a reputation as one of the greatest Middleweight fighters on the planet. The Brazilian held an MMA record of 17-4 and was renowned as one of the world’s most dangerous strikers. If anything, many UFC fans felt that his arrival was somewhat overdue.
However, if things had been a little different, Silva could well have joined the UFC way back in 2001. At that stage, the young ‘Spider’ was 7-1, but had already made an impact in the world of MMA by becoming the first man to defeat Japanese star, Hayato Sakurai.
The win gave Silva the prestigious Shooto Middleweight title, and from there, the UFC quickly became interested. The promotion attempted to sign Silva and pit him against Carlos Newton, who had recently won the UFC Welterweight title, for a fight at UFC 34 in November 2001.
However, it wasn’t to be. Despite the UFC looking all set to put the fight on, Shooto nixed things, stating that they still had Anderson Silva under contract. The UFC decided not to take things further, and so Silva stayed in Japan while Newton ended up fighting another future UFC legend in the form of Matt Hughes.
#2 His time in Japan didn’t go all that well
After his run in Shooto, Silva remained in Japan, signing with the huge PRIDE promotion rather than moving to the UFC. And indeed, he started his career off there in brilliant fashion. ‘The Spider’ took out three successive opponents, including Carlos Newton – perhaps giving UFC fans a glimpse of what could’ve gone down had they fought at UFC 34.
His fourth fight, however, didn’t go so well. Silva was pitted against Daiju Takase, a career journeyman at best who sported a record of 4-7-1 and had lost his last fight. On paper at least, it looked like a squash match for ‘The Spider’, but things didn’t turn out like that.
Somehow, Takase was able to submit Silva with a triangle choke in the first round, stunning everyone who witnessed the fight. The loss actually put a temporary end to Silva’s PRIDE career – but after three big wins on the regional circuit, he was back.
This time he was faced with Ryo Chonan – another largely unproven fighter – but found himself beaten and submitted again. This time, the finish involved a diving heel hook – a unique submission that meant a lot of highlight reels at the time showed Silva as the victim, something that would become very rare once he made it to the UFC!
The fight would be the final one in Silva’s PRIDE career, and he has never fought on Japanese soil again in the 16 years that have followed.