There is that time in every kid’s life where he hears his dad or grandfather talk about a sport’s “Golden Era.” The time when athletes were absolutely the very best in their game, that made a difference in the way the sport is now.
For me it was hearing my dad Reginald telling me about Stan Musial, Dizzy Dean and Enos Slaughter of our beloved St. Louis Cardinals. While stationed in the Army in New York he watched Joe DiMaggio and a rookie Mickey Mantle with the Yankees and saw Rocky Marciano in the boxing ring.
My “Golden Era” included Hank Aaron, Bob Gibson, Pete Rose and Willie Mays in baseball; Jerry West, Oscar Robertson and Pete Maravich in basketball; Jim Brown, Joe Namath and Dick Butkus in football.
This weekend at UFC 126 one of MMA’s “Golden Era” fighters will defend his Middleweight title for the eighth time. He already holds the record with seven successful defenses and twenty years from now fathers will tell their sons about Anderson Silva as one of the greatest to ever step in the Octagon.
Silva possess all required of the best at their game: obviously talent combined with an uncanny ability to deliver in the clutch, witness his last defense with a must have final round triangle/armbar submission of Chael Sonnen.
“The Spider” also has the flair for controversy, to the point where UFC boss Dana White even threatened to kick the superstar out of the organization for making a mockery of his opponents, appearing bored while taunting them as he beat them. A flamboyancy that many legends have.
Maybe he is that good, too much for anyone in his division. He even looks as good as almost every Light Heavyweight when he bounces up to that division in between his Middleweight defenses. Whether he is the best ever can always be debatable, and that’s the point. He certainly is great enough for the discussion.
While MMA is still an infant compared to the history of other main sports, there are decades ahead of superior fighters who will make a difference, the kind your kids will consider the best ever. Based on the fifteen or so years now, Silva ranks as good as it gets for his generation.
When he steps on the scales Friday, as can be seen live on Inside MMA at 7 PM ET, appreciate that now in his mid-thirties it isn’t a stretch to ask how much longer can he be at the top of his game or whether he even wants to keep going in this division if Vitor Belfort can’t offer the challenge he needs Saturday night.
There is no question, with due respect to a hand full of others, Silva represents a Golden Era of MMA.
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