Silva unbeatable? Tyson once was, too


His friends were going out that night, but Dana White chose to stay home.

There was a fight on TV, a boxing match that included a heavyweight champion who was more fable than human, whose undefeated record merely scratched the canvas when explaining his almost mythical-like dominance.

A modern-day Poseidon, able to shake the earth with his mighty left hook.

“My friends were sort of fringe boxing fans and said, ‘That fight will be over in six minutes, so come out and meet us when it is,’” White remembered. “I’ll never forget it as long as I live. I just sat home and watched in horror as the thing unfolded.

“That’s how it is now with Anderson Silva.”

White watched that February night in 1990 as Buster Douglas executed one of the biggest upsets in sports history, knocking out Mike Tyson in the 10th round.

Douglas was a 42-1 underdog.

Horror, is right.

White is now a businessman, a famed entrepreneur as president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, in which he employs a champion whose legacy flirts with the sort of supremacy Tyson once enjoyed.

Silva owns the 185-pound division like Android does smartphone sales.

He hasn’t lost since 2006, and his UFC streak includes 16 straight wins and 10 title defenses, a seven-year run of perfection in the octagon that next will be tested against Chris Weidman in a middleweight main event tonight at UFC 162 at the MGM Grand Garden.

It has come to this in regards to Silva: Would it be better for UFC business if he were to finally lose?

White has said Silva will receive an immediate rematch should he not beat Weidman, and that the rematch would be huge, and you know what that means. Bigger gate. Massive interest. Global appeal.

“As a businessman, as a fight fan, I think it’s awesome to have a guy dominate as Anderson has,” White said. “So many people believe he will win this fight easily, that it’s crazy to think Chris Weidman has a chance. But there is the other side, including many fighters, who say, ‘No, this is the guy who can do it. This is the guy who matches up.’ There is only one way to find out.”

This happens often in sports. A champion is so ridiculously good, so consistent and almost effortless in his journey of one victory followed by another, that people begin to look for reasons as to why he will lose.

They begin to think more with their heart than their head, searching for any flaw that might convince them he who never loses is about to.

I’m not certain that’s the case in so many picking Weidman, because the odds (Silva can be found as low as minus-220 and Weidman plus-215) are the closest for the champion in years.

But the reasons are flowing for why many believe Silva falls tonight.

He was nearly beaten by Chael Sonnen last year, getting dominated on the mat in the first round before scoring a technical knockout at 1:55 of the second.

Also, Silva is 38, and some insist he might have finally arrived at the doorstep of Father Time. They tell you Weidman is 9-0 and nine years younger than Silva.

On and on, the reasons come.

“I am fighting the greatest of all time, so I expect many people will think I’m going to lose,” Weidman said. “But if I’m working hard, and he is working hard, the other guy is not going to break me. This is where I have wanted to be for a long time, fighting for the belt. This is a life-changer for my family.

“If other fighters think I can win, that’s pretty cool.”

Silva doesn’t seem fazed by any of it. He is a rock star in Brazil, Elvis and Springsteen and McCartney rolled into one. I’m just not sure he cares much about others predicting a loss tonight because I’m not sure he pays much attention.

Silva is an odd bird, one of the toughest and baddest men on the planet, whose eyes pop around behind glasses like Mr. Potato Head and whose voice is a soprano mix of former baseball stars Dave Stewart and Tony Gwynn.

“The only way I can explain it is that dealing with Anderson is like dealing with an artist,” White said. “Great guy, great champion, but quirky and has his moments. But people want to see him because you know something special is going to happen.”

It did one February night in 1990.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ed Graney can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on “Gridlock,” ESPN 1100 and 98.9 FM. Follow him on Twitter: @edgraney.