Perhaps the only thing more difficult than beating Anderson Silva is getting a real answer from him during fight-week media events.
And Silva has yet to lose during his seven years in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He has won 16 fights during that span.
He hasn’t had to do a whole lot of talking to make a convincing case as the best mixed martial artist ever.
Silva is 11-0 in title fights and has rarely even been threatened in those bouts. He is the type of fighter who could be a superstar well beyond the limited scope of MMA.
He is, at least in Brazil. He has become a mega-celebrity in his home country where he appears on TV shows and does commercials.
Despite his immense skills and exciting style, Silva isn’t the pay-per-view draw that welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre has become in North America.
Much of that probably has to do with Silva’s lack of desire to cater to the media.
“I don’t think he’s as big as he can possibly be, like a Georges St. Pierre. Anderson just loves to do (expletive) his way and messes with you guys,” UFC president Dana White said. “It’s always difficult to get him to say or do anything.”
Even White, his boss and one of Silva’s biggest supporters, said he doesn’t truly know the middleweight champion.
“I know how to deal with him,” White said. “He’s not a bad guy. You never hear about him getting in trouble. You never hear negative things about him. Anytime he does speak, he speaks positively. He’s just very difficult to deal with. You see him at press conferences some times where he barely says anything.”
Silva has preferred to let his feet and fists do the talking for him. He will look to continue the longest winning streak in UFC history when he puts his belt on the line against Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC 162 at MGM Grand on Saturday night.
“I think what is most important is to set good examples and for those kids that watch the UFC and the kids that are coming up,” Silva said through a translator. “And whatever I should have already done in the sport I’ve done. Win or lose, I’ve already done everything there is to do and now it’s just a matter of doing what I love to do.”
He gets even more cliched discussing the widely held notion that Weidman offers the toughest stylistic matchup Silva has faced in years.
“A fight is a fight,” the 38-year-old champion said.
What Silva may lack in quotability, he more than makes up for once the cage door closes.
“He’s a fighter that people want to see,” White said. “When the dude’s fighting on a Saturday night, you’ll stay home and buy the pay per view because you’re probably going to see something amazing.”
One of Silva’s most important traits as an athlete is just how in tune he is with his own body. At times, he appears to block and dodge shots from opponents before a strike is even thrown.
White relayed a story he was told by Silva’s manager Ed Soares about just how well Silva knows himself. The day before a fight, Silva had to make 185 pounds by weigh-ins in the afternoon.
“He ate in the morning and said, ‘I’m not on weight. I’m over. Let’s go for a walk.’ So they went and walked around the mall and (Silva) just stops and looks at Ed and says, ‘Now, I’m on.’ They go back and he weighs exactly 185,” White said. “It’s so crazy. We’re dealing with a (expletive) Jedi knight or something.”
Regardless of his current popularity or Saturday night’s outcome, Silva’s legacy is secure.
“It’s amazing. What he’s done and the way he’s done it. You don’t see that in the fight game and you just have to take your hat off to him,” former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar said. “There’s so many different ways to lose. Injuries, getting (complacent) or sick, anything can happen to contribute to less than your best effort in a particular fight. To stay perfect like that is incredible.”
Just don’t expect Silva to tell you about it.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.