Many questioned whether or not Anderson Silva was capable of fighting at a high level.
After a potentially career-ending leg injury and 13-month layoff, it’s easy to have doubts about a fighter after eighteen years of professional MMA.
Many of those doubts were quelled after Silva defeated Nick Diaz over five rounds of MMA. It wasn’t the “Spider” of old, but it certainly was something I would watch again.
The first round started with Diaz’s usual antics, taunting and toying with Anderson Silva as the 39-year-old circled. Nick Diaz landed some leg kicks and punches, but most went off target early.
Some of the later exchanges favored Silva as he moved the fight towards the cage, landed the left hand to set up bigger power shots and knees. It was a close but intense sequence.
The second round started similarly, with Diaz landing leg kicks and short strikes before Silva gradually made his presence known late on. Neither man looked willing to engage the other; both looking for counters and only the best opportunities. This selectiveness led to another close and timid round on their feet.
The third round was Silva’s best. “The Spider” worked behind his jab, making Diaz lunge inward to land shots and have to take unnecessary risks. Silva’s positioning and body movement paid dividends, and allowed him do some damage and work on breaking Diaz down. It would show as time went on.
Round four was much of the same. Silva managed to pop Diaz with lightning-quick combinations and short kicks. He was allowed to take more risks, and looked the fresher man as the fight wore on.
It became evident by the closing moments of round five that, despite an entertaining display, Diaz was about to lose to perhaps the greatest fighter in the history of the UFC.
Silva was a special fighter on this night, still, and a champion in all. After 39 years, no one can remain the same, but Silva certainly looked like a man who refused to quit, and is still the great fighter he was in his heyday.
The judges scored the bout 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46; all for Silva, who was broken to tears upon having his hands raised.
Some legends never fade, or, at least, not without making a fight of it. This was a great night for MMA, and a great night Anderson Silva.