February 6, 2011
Anderson Silva walks the walk
By ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency
LAS VEGAS - Anderson (the Spider) Silva may not be the most personable fighter in a sport that is so wildly popular because it is so thick with dynamic personalities.
But in the young, still unfolding history of mixed martial arts, Silva once again showed his savage efficiency with a devastating finish to the headline fight of UFC 126.
With one lightning-quick strike from his lethal left foot, the Brazilian added to his legend in a show stopping knockout of fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort.
As vicious as it was timely, when the bottom of Silva's foot connected with Belfort's chin it brought the night to its brutal conclusion and became an instant MMA classic given the magnitude of the moment and the man who delivered the blow.
"I was waiting and he just caught me," said Belfort, who tumbled to the canvas of the Mandalay Bay Events Center octagon where he remained dazed for several minutes after the fight was stopped at 3:25 of the first round.
"He faked the body and he kicked to the head. But that's what the UFC is about. We're here to fight."
As he promised before Saturday's fight at a sold out Super Bowl eve card, UFC president Dana White confirmed that Silva's next bout will be against Canadian hero Georges St. Pierre. In a sport that can sometimes get cluttered with the glut of big UFC numbered cards, the buildup to a GSP-Silva bout would be virtually unparalleled.
"The biggest challenge is where it will be," White said in his post fight press conference. "It's all just theory. GSP has to win his fight and he has to come out healthy but that's what we want to do. It will be difficult deciding where, but we'll figure it out."
Given the chance to make his own pitch for a location, Silva wants no part of going north of the border or fighting in any class other than the middleweight division he has owned since joining the UFC.
"If it was up to me, I'd like to have the fight in Brazil but that's not going to happen," Silva said. "I'd like to have that fight in Vegas. This is my home away from home. This is where I would like to fight."
There was a fear going into Saturday's main event, that Belfort and Silva would spend too much time dancing and not enough fighting. The former sparring partners can be cagey at times and much of the first round turned out that way until Belfort let his guard down just long enough for Silva to destroy him.
While Belfort may have been expecting a body blow, the long powerful leg of Silva honed in on his chin sending his challenger to the ground helpless and near unconscious.
Silva, who defended his title successfully for an eighth consecutive time, has now won 13 consecutive fights in the UFC, an unparalleled accomplishment among the elite of his craft.
"I think (Silva) is the best fighter in the world," White said. "And when he does what he's capable of doing, we have nights like tonight," White said.
An at times dull card was saved by Silva's stunning shot and also a brilliant display by Jon (Bones) Jones who dominated in a light heavyweight decision over popular Ultimate Fighter Season 8 champ Ryan Bader.
Afterwards, Jones was floored when it was announced before he left the octagon that he is in line for a with a title bout in six weeks against Mauricio (Shogun) Rua.
"I'm so confident when I come (in to the octagon)," said Jones. "I'm hungry and I'm going for it."
The Mandalay crowd was mixed in its verdict in the co main event which saw Forrest Griffin score a unanimous but tight decision over Rich Franklin in a light heavyweight bout.