When it comes to the best strikers in the world, Anderson Silva is near the top of most any credible list -- at least when it comes to MMA.
Before “The Spider” finally began to show his mortality in recent years, he was often regarded as the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighter. That high regard developed in no small part because of a wide array of spectacular knockout victories.
Before he was a household name, the Brazilian put Tony Fryklund away with a beautiful lead reverse back elbow at Cage Rage 16 in 2006. His legend only grew in the Octagon, when a devastating salvo of knees from the Thai plum ended Rich Franklin’s reign as middleweight champion at UFC 64. And who can forget his front-kick knockout of Vitor Belfort at UFC 126, which still ranks as one of the most jaw-dropping finishes in promotion history.
Silva’s flair for showmanship and counter punching prowess produced many other memorable knockouts during his reign atop the sport’s pound-for-pound lists. Only with age and the inevitable reduction in reaction time and quickness did the Brazilian appear human. Still, even conquering opponents have the utmost respect for Silva, as evidenced by Michael Bisping’s comments following his unanimous decision triumph over the former champ at UFC Fight Night in London this past February.
“....I worship this guy. This guy is the greatest martial artist of all time. That’s why I’m so emotional right now. This has been a lifelong quest. I know I said things,” Bisping said after an encounter that featured its fair share of pre-fight trash talk from the outspoken Englishman.
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“Anderson, the respect I have for you, you cannot measure. You inspired me when I started. I was a young cocky kid, saying things I regret and the whole time I was looking at this guy thinking, ‘Wow, I want to be like that guy.’.…Anderson, thank you.”
While Silva’s greatness is undeniable, there are plenty of other great strikers in the MMA realm, though many specialize in certain areas. Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell and Robbie Lawler rank as some of the UFC’s most formidable power punchers, for example, while a prime Fedor Emelianenko was arguably as well-rounded and skilled as anyone with his hands.
Meanwhile, Mirko Filipovic’s “Right leg hospital, left leg cemetery” routine was the stuff of legend in Pride Fighting Championships, and Jose Aldo has turned many a foe’s lead leg to mush with his brutal low kicks.
Still others relied on craft and technique more than brute force. Lyoto Machida, for example, consistently baffled adversaries with timing, movement and counter attacks, while Georges St. Pierre, who is no one’s idea of a knockout artist, could win fights on the skill of his jab alone.
In short, there are plenty of ways to define the best strikers in the MMA world. it’s simply a matter of picking your poison.