Anderson "Spider" Silva never loses. Or, at least, very few mixed martial arts fans remember him losing.
He's never lost in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a record 16-consecutive victories. He's never lost as UFC middleweight champion, a record 10 title defenses. Other than a disqualification for an illegal kick in 2006 while fighting in a different promotion, he hasn't been defeated by anyone since a journeyman named Ryo Chonan submitted him with a flying scissor heel hook back in 2004.
Go ahead and raise your hand if you happened to watch that Pride card live from Saitama, Japan.
For the rest of the MMA fans in the world – 99 percent of us – Anderson Silva (33-4) just never loses. That's why it was a bombshell Monday when he declared that should he step up in weight and take on UFC light heavyweight champion Jon "Bones" Jones in a much begged-for superfight, he thinks he'll lose.
"If I fight Jon Jones," Silva said at a press lunch, "I don't think I'm going to win."
It might have been the first time in fighting history that reverse trash talk excited the public.
Silva fights a guy who could actually beat him in Chris Weidman. It's the headline bout of UFC 162 at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas. Weidman is tough, powerful and may possess the kind of wrestling skills that have made "Spider" look mortal in the past. This fight is no joke.
Of course Silva is still a better than two-to-one favorite in the sportsbooks and most of the pay-per-view audience will tune in mostly to see how he wins, not whether he wins.
Again, the guy never loses. There is only moderate buzz about the fight in the mainstream media despite the exhaustive campaign by the UFC. Silva's comments about Jones, not Weidman, are what sent the sport into a tizzy Monday – and they'll continue to be a storyline the rest of the week, complete with, we're sure, people asking Weidman if he feels disrespected or wondering whether Silva is taking him too lightly.
Answers: Weidman shouldn't and we doubt it.
[Related: Dana White says Anderson Silva will get immediate title shot if he loses]
Silva is 38 now and sometimes talks about his legacy. A guy on a seven-year win streak is obviously still in his prime, but the inevitable end keeps getting closer. Fair or not, victories at the 185-pound middleweight division only add so much to his legend. His dominance in that class is carved in stone.
Stepping up to face 205-pound champ Jones – or even down to a catch-weight against 170-pound champ Georges St. Pierre – is worth more than running that UFC win streak deep into the 20s. And based on his humility when predicting how a match-up with Jones would go, he likely knows it.
Silva has said plenty of things in his career. Sometimes there is confusion through translation. Sometimes he's just playing games. And there is no question this could simply be the beginning of playing head games with a 25 year old that might fall for it.
Jones immediately took to Twitter to note he was "honored to hear the statements Silva made regarding a superfight."
Still, whether Silva believes what he said or not, Jones would open as the favorite. He's like nothing Silva has ever seen, mostly because there were no athletes like him in MMA when "Spider" started. Jones (18-1) is a brilliant combination of natural talent and a well-honed, well-rounded skill set built on hard work and dedication.
He'd step into the Octagon with a two-inch advantage in height, seven in reach and maybe 20-to-25 pounds in weight. He'd be a puzzle that Silva would be hard-pressed to solve.
"Jon Jones, in his class, is the best," Silva said Monday according to Yahoo! Sports columnist Dave Doyle. "Jon Jones is different. He's large. But, in the fight, I see in Jon Jones, I see myself from a long time ago. He's very smart."
All true. And all why fans are desperate to see the fight made. Let's see if the best of all-time can beat a bigger man who is the best at his weight class, if not the current pound-for-pound champ.
[Cagewriter: Make your UFC 162 picks today!]
MMA, and the UFC in particular, was home to a slew of superfights in the past (Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell, Tito Ortiz, Rampage Jackson, Wanderlei Silva and Dan Henderson almost all fought each other at one time or another). Even champ vs. champ wasn't uncommon, if only because the money wasn't there for just run-of-the-mill cards. They had to create excitement.
We haven't seen anything like it, however, since lightweight B.J. Penn stepped up to take on St. Pierre. That was all the way back in January 2009.
Jones vs. Silva would be exponentially bigger, richer, more hyped and celebrated. It'd be the biggest event in the sport's history. They could throw it in Cowboys Stadium and draw six-figure attendance, not to mention a million-plus pay-per-view.
The fact that the guy who never loses says he doesn't think he can actually win, just adds to the build-up.
Because for an all-timer like Anderson Silva, just climbing into the cage against a force-of-nature like Jonny Bones, would, all alone, cap his legacy in ways not even another string of title defenses could.
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