February 06, 2011
Add another highlight to Anderson Silva's knockout reel. The UFC's middleweight champ waited for Vitor Belfort to relax for a split second and then delivered a vicious front kick to the challenger's chin. Belfort, drilled by the ball of Silva's foot, went down hard. He was helpless on the ground, where Silva landed two more punches before referee Mario Yamasaki stepped in to stop the bout at 3:25 of the first round.
Silva has won 14 straight fights and 13 in a row in the UFC. In an era of amazing balance and growing competition in mixed martial arts, Silva hasn't lost a fight since 2006. He's also been successful in eight straight title fights. That's a UFC record.
"This was a kick that I trained a lot," Silva said through his translator/manager Ed Soares. "Vitor is a guy with very quick hands and great boxing skills. I practiced this kick a lot and it just happened to work out."
Update: Silva got the Knockout of the Night bonus, good for $75,000.
Dana White, who's had issues with some of Silva's antics in the past in the Octagon, was wowed by the finish.
"I think he’s the best fighter in the world, and when he does what he’s capable of doing, you have a night like tonight," the UFC president said. "I've only seen that in a video game."
The lead-up to the fight got nastier as the week went along. One of the biggest fights in the history of Brazil, the fighters were polite to each other during the prefight press conference on Wednesday. On Thursday, Belfort suggested Silva was a phony and tries to intimidate opponents with his games in the Octagon. Silva (28-4, 13-0 UFC) lost his cool during the weigh-ins when he wore a mask and nearly started a brawl. The champ promised that Belfort would pay for his criticism of his behavior. Silva explained during the postfight that he was also annoyed that a friend was challenging him.
"I'm part of a team, part of a family," Silva said during the UFC 126 postfight press conference. "We have a code of honor at Team Nogueira that we would never fight each other. I've trained with Vitor a lot. I helped him for a lot of fights and Vitor's helped me for a lot of fights. He chose his path and that was the path he chose."
The fight unfolded in typical Silva fashion. The champ is a classic counter-striker. If the opponent doesn't engage early, Silva starts to clown him. Silva wasn't too demonstrative tonight, but he did begin to a dance a little and twirl his hands.
Belfort (19-9, 8-5 UFC) had a little success early when he caught a Silva head kick and pushed him to the ground with two minutes left in the round. Silva popped right back up. Belfort began to let his hands go, but was missing badly on most attempts. When it reset in the middle of the cage, Belfort relaxed at the wrong moment and got nailed by that front kick.
Belfort, 33, is one of the old-timers in UFC. He made his debut at UFC 13 at the age of 19. He eventually won the UFC heavyweight and the light heavyweight titles. He struggled with injuries and motivational issues in his late 20's. Viewing him as a guy who would bring the fight to Silva at middleweight, Dana White brought Belfort on board. He made his return to the promotion at UFC 103 with a win over Rich Franklin. With both battling injuries, attempts to match the two fighters during 2010 fell through on several occasions.
Silva could be matched up next against Chael Sonnen again some time in 2011. Sonnen faced Silva at UFC 117 and was leading four rounds to zip entering the final round before he got caught in a triangle choke.
Currently, Sonnen is serving a promotion-imposed suspension. Sonnen accepted a plea deal to federal money laundering charges in January. His sentencing is scheduled for March. He's also finishing up a six-month steroid-related suspension in California.
On Wednesday, White mentioned that it may be time for Silva to face Georges St. Pierre, the UFC's welterweight champion. GSP is scheduled to defend his title at UFC 129 in Toronto in April. If he gets by Jake Shields, the road is clear for a Silva-GSP champion vs. champion superfight.
Posted Jun 28 2012
Posted Jun 26 2012
Posted Jun 25 2012