Anderson Silva (second from left) celebrated wins with two teammates Saturday. | File photo: Marcelo Alonso
Another worthy challenger to the UFC’s 185-pound title bit the dust Saturday night.
Anderson Silva put on a show at UFC 134, demolishing No. 1 contender Yushin Okami with precise punching and blinding speed, qualities that have become the norm rather than the exception when discussing the longtime middleweight king.
Silva’s victory carried with it retribution. In defeating Okami, the 36-year-old avenged the only loss on his record in the last five years, erasing the memory of his 2006 disqualification loss to the Japanese standout in the opening round of Rumble on the Rock’s 175-pound tournament.
Following his victory, Silva expressed satisfaction in his performance, crediting his teammates for not only helping him to prepare for his ninth consecutive title defense, but also for their respective in-cage performances in front of a hometown crowd at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro.
“I’m happy. My whole team won this night,” Silva told UFC.com after exiting the cage. “Me and my master ‘Minotauro’ [Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira], Erick Silva, all the guys on my team [won]. Tonight, Brazil won.”
In Saturday’s main event, Silva used most of the first round to gauge distance and work from the clinch against his muscled foe before landing a whipping head kick to end the first frame. Round two quickly became a nightmare for Okami, as “The Spider” began toying with him, dropping the judoka with a stiff jab before finishing the job with a lead-right hook. As Silva casually followed up with punches atop the fallen Okami, referee Herb Dean mercifully stopped the contest.
When discussing the bout, Silva once again pointed to his preparation, dolling out credit to the men who helped him get ready for the man many regarded as Silva’s toughest challenger to-date. While it is no secret that Silva’s teammates share a strong bond, the Spider even admitted to making his training process a literal family matter.
“I train for the best fighters in the world,” said Silva. “Team Nogueira is the best. I train with [Junior dos Santos], Rafael ‘Feijao’ [Cavalcante] and ‘Minotauro’ Nogueira. And my sons help me all the time in training.”
It remains anyone’s guess exactly who is up next for the middleweight champion. The two names circulating most frequently in that discussion are Strikeforce light heavyweight king Dan Henderson and former UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen, provided the latter can get past Brian Stann at UFC 136 on Oct. 8.
While both men are highly regarded for their in-cage abilities, one major problem exists when making the case for title contendership: Silva has already beaten both of them. This might be why Silva declined to mention either man when asked who he would like to fight next, instead requesting a fight with someone he first called out back in 2007 -- perhaps now truly the last viable challenger for Silva at 185 pounds.
“[I would like to fight] my clone.”