Anderson’s speed, agility and physical strength make him a force to be reckoned with in the ring, and he does not fail to show this in every fight. In fact, his well-rounded fighting style, striking strength and accuracy, and his ability to counterattack with such amazing speed has awed even the most experienced of fighters, and has caused numerous MMA experts to hail him as the best MMA the sport has ever seen. Anderson is the number one pound-for-pound mixed martial arts fighter in the world according to several publications, and is ranked as the world’s second best middleweight fighter.
One of the things that make Anderson a truly great person is his humility. To think about it, Anderson could have all the reasons to boast of being the best fighter there is—he has defeated the biggest names in his weight division, earned multiple titles and awards, and has successfully defended his titles against equally remarkable opponents—but he allows none of these accomplishments to get to his head. For Anderson, the only time that you can say that you are the best in something is when you finally decide to stop and look back at what you have accomplished, and find out that they still stand.
As Anderson says in an interview regarding his status as the top ranking MMA fighter in the world:
“I don’t think I am the best of the pound-for-pound fighter, nor do I think I am the best in my division. I will only be able to say that to you when I quit fighting. Then I will be able to say that I was good at that, that in my time I was in my best form, in my weight and in my division. I still have to fight a lot, and of course defeats will come, too, but many victories as well. I have my feet on the ground in relation to this kind of thought.”
It is no surprise to see why Anderson is the best at what he does—he constantly trains to improve himself every day. In fact, most of Anderson’s time is spent on training because of his firm belief that as one constantly trains, they continually improve beyond the average limits of human capability and enable themselves to do feats that most would consider ordinarily impossible. When Anderson was interviewed with regards to his training regimen, he answered:
“I train twice every day; the hours vary depending on what I am doing, but I love being in the gym training and my day revolves around my training. I rarely take a break—I am always training. After a fight I will try to take some time off, but other than that, I am constantly training and working out.”
In another interview, Anderson says:
“Keep on training; it’s the only way to improve. There are many things people can do to train their bodies and there is always room for improvement when training.”
A lot of MMA fighters bank on their victories so much that it depresses them when they get defeated, but this is not the case for Anderson. For him, defeat is inevitable, and what really is important is not to try and avoid it, but to accept the fact that it happens and get over it once it is done. Because of this concept, Anderson remains secure even when he is faced with fighters who seem to be stronger than him.
Anderson says in an interview:
“I think it is cool, the more athletes there are to test my technique, if I really deserve being the champion, the better it is. I will not be the champion forever, somebody will beat me, obviously, and that makes me stronger so that I can make the results positive. Winning or losing is there, walking side by side. I already lost, I’ve won, and there were times I didn’t fight. It won’t be anything out of this world for me if I lose. I train so that I can fight well. The result is the fruit grown from the job we did.”
The Humble Beginnings of an MMA Superstar
Anderson Silva was born in April of 1975 to Juarez Silva, the third of four children. Not long after Anderson was born, his mother left their family, forcing Juarez to take care of Anderson and his siblings. Fortunately, Anderson had family members close to them, and not long before his mother left, his aunt and his uncle, who was an officer with the local police force, stepped in to help Juarez take care of the family.
In spite of living in poverty (Juarez was a worker who went through several jobs just to support his family), Anderson and his siblings grew up without having bitterness in life because of the love and care that they received from their family. Like his siblings, Anderson was taught by his father, aunt and uncle the things he should value most and principles that he would carry for the rest of his life.
As a young child, Anderson got really interested in reading comic books, and made some of the comic book superheroes (like Spider-man) as his own. Reading comic books significantly played a role in the life of Anderson, who would later on state in interviews that part of his interest in martial arts was inspired by his favourite comic book characters.
Introduction to Martial Arts
Anderson got introduced to the martial art of Jiu-Jitsu at a young age because it was the hottest sport in their neighbourhood and almost every kid on the block that could afford studying it spent a lot of their time on it. And so, with Anderson having a lot of friends who were studying Jiu-Jitsu, practised with them during their spare time and got very interested in the sport.
Anderson described his early martial arts days in an interview made with him:
“When I started out, Jiu-Jitsu was really an elite thing in Brazil, and there was some prejudice towards poorer kids, so I had to learn things on my own. Some of my neighbours started doing Jiu-Jitsu, so I started watching it, and then started rolling with them. It wasn’t organized training, but it was better than nothing.”
It did not take long before Anderson found himself in love with martial arts, and spent a great deal of time on the sport. His father Juarez, who saw the potential in Anderson but did not really want for him to focus on martial arts as a profession, encouraged his son to look for other avenues of profession but nevertheless supported Anderson on whatever decision he took in his life.
Getting Serious in Mixed Martial Arts
Seeing the amazing potential and passion that Anderson had in martial arts, Juarez, along with Anderson’s aunt and uncle, started saving money so that Anderson could start having formal training in martial arts. Finally, when Anderson was twelve years old, the family was able to set aside enough money to pay for his studies and as such enrolled Anderson in a Tae Kwon Do dojo to formally learn the art; Anderson would later on earn his black belt at age eighteen.
From Tae Kwon Do, Anderson moved to the martial art of Capoeira (where he received a yellow rope), Judo (earning a black belt), and boxing, learning its foundations until he finally came across Muay Thai, which really piqued Anderson’s interest enough for him to decide to stick with the sport. Years later, during an interview, when Anderson was asked about his martial arts discipline, he simply answered:
“Muay Thai is my main discipline and the fighting style that I focus on the most; it is the fighting style that got me to where I am today.”
Throughout his teenage to young adult life, Anderson spent his time working and training in martial arts. Early on, he already had his dreams of becoming a professional mixed martial arts fighter, but little did he know that his journey in the world of professional mixed martial arts would lead him to become one of the greatest MMA fighters in the world.
Prior to professionally joining mixed martial arts competitions, Anderson worked several jobs so he could start supporting his career on his own. He first worked as a service crew at a fast food joint (McDonalds) then became a file clerk at a local company.
Anderson’s Early MMA Career
Anderson started his professional MMA career way back in 1997, beginning in the welterweight category where he won two consecutive wins. Throughout the next three years, Anderson kept on training and improving himself in MMA, combining all the arts that he learned and getting the most helpful concepts of each art that would strengthen his combat style. He also established a name for himself in the MMA world, winning fights on every event that he participated in.
In 2000, Anderson was matched up with Luiz Azeredo, an equally skilled and well-known opponent. The fight was a victory for Luis via decision, and Anderson got his first recorded loss after a streak of wins against several opponents for the last three years. The defeat affected Anderson very little, and afterwards made a winning streak in the next nine fights, six of those won by submission or knock out.
Gaining confidence through the number of victories he has attained, Anderson decided to start fighting outside his country and flew to Japan to become a challenger for the Shooto Middleweight Championship in 2001. Winning his first match on foreign soil, Anderson was then pitted against Hayato Sakurai, the then-reigning Shooto Champion (who was undefeated for twenty fights already)—the match was in favor of Anderson, who defeated Hayato via unanimous decision and became the new Shooto Middleweight Champion.
PRIDE: Establishing a Name for Himself
In 2002, Anderson moved a level up his career when he began fighting in the Pride Fighting Championships. He wasted no time in building his reputation by winning fight after fight against opponents who were senior to him in Pride (such as Alex Stiebling, Alexander Otsuka and Carlos Newton). In his fight against Carlos Newton, Anderson made an impressive flying knee which caused Carlos to collapse and give the victory to Anderson via technical knockout.
Anderson’s winning streak in Pride was halted in 2003 when he fought against Daiku Takase, a fighter who was thought to be the underdog due to his number of wins and losses (four and seven, respectively). Contrary to everyone’s expectations, however, Daiku dominated most of the fight by pinning Anderson to the ground and eventually submitting him with a triangle choke. The loss almost demoralized Anderson, who was then contemplating on quitting MMA altogether. However, he found renewed interest and strength after he was talked through by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, another well-known MMA fighter.
Inspired by the words given to him by Antonio, Anderson decided to stay and improve himself in MMA. He joined Antonio at the Brazilian Top Team, and started to participate in other promotions around the world. In 2004, Anderson had a brief stint of victory by winning against Jeremy Horn via decision, but losing against Ryo Chonan via submission to a match in December. In spite of these defeats, Anderson did not waver anymore; instead, he took what he could learn from his previous fights and trained himself to never make the same mistakes again.
Winning at Cage Rage
In 2005, Anderson left Pride and started his career at Cage Rage, another famous MMA promotion. He made a remarkable debut, defeating the notable and well-known striker Lee Murray via decision and winning the Cage Rage Middleweight Championship. Anderson defended his title on two consecutive occasions, winning matches against Curtis Stout and Tony Fryklund with a knockout (the match was supposed to be against Matt Lindland, but the latter decided to face another fighter instead).
Sometime during that year, Anderson also participated in the Rumble on the Rock promotion in Hawaii, where he fought against Yushin Okami but was defeated via disqualification. During the fight, Anderson landed a clean kick to the face of Yushin, but the move was determined as illegal due to Yushin being in a ‘downed’ position. And although Yushin was given the opportunity to rest and fight again, he instead opted to win via disqualification. Anderson later on commented how the rules were never clearly explained to him before the fight, and that Yushin’s actions were ‘cheap and cowardly’ regarding winning.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship: The Start of Anderson’s Six-Year Reign as the Best
2006 was the year where Anderson started his rise towards the top. In April, Ultimate Fighting Championship, the most famous MMA promotion in the world, announced that they signed Anderson to a multi-fight contract and began to promote him, even releasing an interview segment shortly after the announcement.
Two months later, Anderson indeed proved the speculations by making his debut at the Ultimate Fight Night against Chris Leben, who had five victories and was undefeated in UFC. Prior to the match, Chris said with overconfidence that he would knock Anderson out, but this was proven to be all air when he was knocked out by Anderson through a flurry of accurate strikes and a final knee strike in the first round.
Anderson’s win against Chris made him an overnight superstar, and by October he was set to face Chris Franklin, who was then the reigning UFC Middleweight Champion. Set via popular vote, the match was mostly in Anderson’s favor, who delivered amazing knee strikes to Chris’ body and face. Eventually, a timed strike broke Chris’ nose and the referee had to stop the fight, ending the bout and making Anderson the new UFC Middleweight Champion.
Throughout the next six and a half years, Anderson would successfully defend his titles against every opponent. Anderson’s speed, agility, accuracy and strength were tested time and time again even against opponents who seemed to be superior to him.
In 2007, Anderson successfully defended his title and won against fighters Nate Marquardt, Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson and James Irvin, winning three of the fights via knockouts and one submission. During his fight against Dan Henderson, who was believed by many to have the advantage on the ground, Anderson proved his improvement in ground fights by making Dan submit using a rear naked choke. During the bout against James Irvin (and Anderson’s debut at the Light Heavyweight Division), Anderson showcased his speed and accuracy by landing near-perfect accurate punches on the slower and heavier James. He eventually ended the bout in the first round by a flurry of punches to the head, knocking James out.
Anderson once again defended his title in 2008, when he fought against contender Patrick Cote. Winning via TKO (technical knockout) due to a wrong landing on Patrick’s part after he threw a kick, Anderson’s performance was criticized because of his alleged avoiding of contact throughout the bout. In response, Anderson stated that the plan was to defeat Patrick in five rounds, exhausting him in the first three rounds and inducing him to commit mistakes. Anderson said in a press-conference after the fight:
“There are many people saying I was disrespecting Cote, but this is absolutely not true. My game plan since the beginning was fight five rounds, inducing him to commit mistakes and capitalize on that during the first three rounds and look for the knockout during the fourth and fifth rounds. I connected with a couple of good punches and knees, but unfortunately he got hurt and the fight was over.”
In 2009, Anderson faced against very strong opponents that many thought would end his winning streak, but he nevertheless successfully defended his championship against them. The first bout, which was against Thales Leites, was the first time since Anderson joined UFC that the bout lasted five rounds. The next match that was against the former Light Heavyweight Champion Forrest Griffin ended in a victory for Anderson, who knocked Forrest down three times in the first round. The fight, which many considered as Anderson’s greatest fight that time, shared honors with the bout of Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir.
In spite of the speculations that Anderson was going to move up a weight level in his career, Anderson continued to fight on the Middleweight level. His next bout, which was supposed to be against Vitor Belfort, was cancelled due to Anderson still recovering from an injury he suffered months before. He was then faced against Demian Maia, whose bout many did not like because of the way Anderson acted during the bout. Anderson conducted a press conference later on apologizing for his behavior during the fight, and said that he would re-evaluate the humility that enabled him to get where he was.
Anderson was faced with his hardest challenge in 2010, when he fought against Chael Sonnen to defend his Middleweight title. From the first down to the fifth round, Anderson was completely dominated by Chael with punches and takedowns, causing the audience to conclude that Chael would win the fight and end Anderson’s winning streak. However, Anderson had an opening in the fifth round that sealed the fight for him—he was able to lock a triangle arm bar on Chael, causing him to submit two minutes to the end of the round.
The fight was considered by many to be the hardest that Anderson has ever faced in his entire career. In fact, ever since he started out in UFC, Anderson was never hit this hard, taking in more punches in that one bout compared to the total number of punches he took in all of his previous matches in UFC. A controversy opened when it was revealed that Chael was using synthesized hormones, thus affecting him in his fight with Anderson. In spite of this, a rematch was scheduled between the two, which was highly anticipated by many fans of UFC.
From Victory to Victory
In 2011, Anderson successfully defended his title against Vitor Belfort and Yushin Okima, who defeated him in the Rumble on the Rock promotion years before. During his match with Vitor, Anderson delivered devastating attacks to Vitor’s body and face that the referee had to stop the fight at three minutes and twenty-five seconds because Vitor could not fight anymore. Anderson’s win against Vitor was significant in that he was the first one who handed Vitor a knockout in the opponents’ twenty-eight fight career. Anderson also successfully defended his title and avenged his loss against Yushin Okami, whom he knocked out during the second round.
Anderson’s long-awaited rematch with Chael Sonnen finally happened in July 2012. Like the previous bout, Anderson was quite struggling during the first round, but after learning the style of his opponent Anderson employed exceptional head movement and fast and accurate striking, delivering a technical knockout to Chael during the second round and ending the fight. He also defeated Stephan Bonnar in October, bringing his number of successful title defenses to a total of ten, the most that anyone has ever had in UFC history.
Like with any athlete, Anderson has always stated in interviews that eventually, someone would step in and defeat him one day. This day came on July 6, 2013, when he fought against Chris Weidman and was defeated via knockout in the second round, ending his six-year reign as the UFC Middleweight Champion. The fight was speculated by many as ‘fixed,’ due to Anderson’s ‘seemingly’ poor performance against Chris. During the press conference after the fight, Anderson showed his sportsmanship by defending the fight and stating that it was not fixed, and that he was looking for a rematch with Weidman. Due to the number of votes, the rematch was scheduled for the end of the year.
Throughout his career as an MMA fighter, Anderson has received numerous sponsorship offers from companies such as Nike, Burger King, 9INE and the Sport Club Corinthians Paulista. For his father Juarez, Anderson’s career has reached heights that he would never have imagined. In an interview, Juarez said of his son:
“Every father’s dream is to see his son become a winner. But I was surprised, I never imagined he’d make it this far, getting sponsored by Corinthians, being applauded wherever he goes. Anderson’s sport has grown a lot.”
Anderson’s story and life is an amazing reminder to many of us because it proves that our past never determines our future. Even though Anderson started out as poor and insignificant, he never allowed his circumstances to prevent him from dreaming something big and rising up from his situation to attain it.
And even though he has achieved so much in his career, Anderson never forgets to remember where he’s from and what brought him to where he is today. He handles success in a good way, always keeping his feet on the ground and realizing that he is still human. As he says in an interview when he was asked how he handles success:
“I deal with all of these very easily. I’m doing my job. I do my fights, come back home and train, see my mistakes and successes. I’m trying to improve each day, searching for something that is almost impossible: perfection. It’s impossible, but we have to keep on trying and while I continue fighting, I’ll keep my mind on this objective. Eventually someone better than me will appear, for sure, and will win. The overcoming, the getting over, the devotion— this is what matters.”
Organizations and Programmes Supported
Awards and Achievements
- 1997: Defeated Raimundo Pinheiro
- 1997: Defeated Fabricio Camoes
- 2000: Defeated Jose Barreto
- 2000: Defeated Claudionor Fontinelle
- 2001: Defeated Tetsuji Kato
- 2001: Defeated Israel Albuquerque
- 2001: Defeated Hayato Sakurai for the Shooto Middleweight Championship
- 2002: Defeated Roan Carneiro
- 2002: Defeated Alex Stiebling
- 2002: Defeated Alexander Otsuka
- 2003: Defeated Carlos Newton
- 2003: Defeated Waldir dos Anjos
- 2004: Defeated Jeremy Horn
- 2004: Defeated Lee Murray for the Cage Rage Middleweight Championship
- 2005: Defended the Cage Rage Middleweight Championship against Jorge Rivera
- 2005: Defended the Cage Rage Middleweight Championship against Curtis Stout
- 2006: Defended the Cage Rage Middleweight Championship against Tony Fryklund
- 2006: Defeated Chris Leben for the UFC Middleweight Championship Elimination
- 2006: Defeated Rich Franklin for the UFC Middleweight Championship
- 2007: Defeated Travis Lutter
- 2007: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Nate Marquardt
- 2007: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Rich Franklin
- 2008: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Dan Henderson
- 2008: Defeated James Irvin
- 2008: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Patrick Cote
- 2008: Named the World’s Most Dangerous Man at the Spike Guys’ Choice Awards
- 2008: Named Fighter of the Year by Sports Illustrated
- 2008: Received the World MMA Award for Fighter of the Year
- 2009: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Thales Leites
- 2009: Defeated Forrest Griffin
- 2010: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Demian Maia
- 2010: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Chael Sonnen
- 2010: Fight with Chael Sonnen named Fight of the Year by MMA Live
- 2010: Won the World MMA Award for Fight of the Year (against Chael Sonnen)
- 2011: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Vitor Belfort
- 2011: Fight with Vitor Belfort named Knockout of the Year by ESPN.com
- 2011: Won the World MMA Award for Knockout of the Year (against Vitor Belfort)
- 2011: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Yushin Okami
- 2012: Defended the UFC Middleweight Championship against Chael Sonnen
- 2012: Defeated Stephan Bonnar
- 2012: Named as the MMA Most Valuable Fighter by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- 2012: Named as the Most Outstanding Fighter by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter
- Holds the UFC record for Most Consecutive Title Defenses
- Holds the UFC record for Most Successful Title Defenses
- Holds the UFC Record for Most Wins in Title Fights (along with Georges St-Pierre)
- Holds the UFC Record for the Longest Title Reign
- Holds the UFC Record for the Most Knockdowns Landed
- Named as the #1 Pound-for-Pound MMA Fighter in the World
Sher Dog (Silva: Do the Job, Get Back to 185)
Ask Men (AM Fighter Interview: Anderson Silva)
Gracie Mag (“Being Silva’s dad is living with an accelerated heart rate”)
Wikipedia (Anderson Silva)
Cage Potato (Full Translation of Anderson Silva’s New ‘Tatame’ Interview)
Ask Men (Anderson Silva)