Most UFC fans had their first introduction to Anderson “The Spider” Silva when he knocked out Chris Leben on UFC’s Ultimate Fight Night in June of 2006. Chris Leben was, and is, considered a durable striker with a great chin. Leben came straight at Silva and paid the price when Silva landed a couple of crisp punches, followed by a devastating knee to Leben’s head.
The victory was so devastating and so one sided that UFC president Dana White immediately gave Silva a shot at Rich Franklin’s middleweight belt. I think most UFC fans thought that even with a decisive victory over Leben that Franklin’s experience and strength would be enough to counter Silva’s obvious striking ability.
Most UFC fans would have been incorrect. Silva’s work from the clinch was unbelievable. He literally held the back of Franklin’s head for 2 minutes while he repeatedly kneed Franklin to the body. When Franklin went to protect his now bruised torso, Silva went to the head landing a couple of hard knees. It was those knees which broke Franklin’s nose and won Silva the fight.
So, now Anderson Silva must face Ultimate Fighter season 4 winner Travis Lutter on February 3rd, 2007. Even though he took out the champion and a highly regarded contender, some people still have their doubts. Unlike many UFC fans, I also have followed the Pride organization for many years. The first time I took notice of Anderson Silva was when he brought Carlos Newton to the ground with a flying knee, not unlike the one given to Leben. At the time, Carlos Newton was thought to be one of the best fighters in the world. That was 2003.
Anderson Silva is no newcomer to Mixed Martial Arts, he is a seasoned veteran. He’s beaten people standing up and on the ground. He is deceptively strong and the only word to describe his striking is “amazing”. I once saw him knock out an opponent with an uppercut elbow. Just try that yourself and ask yourself this, how do you get close enough to a guy to throw that and how do you throw it hard enough to knock the other guy out. Amazing!
On the other hand Travis Lutter is an excellent submission specialist, but who has he submitted? He certainly defeated Patrick Cote easily in the Ultimate Fighter Final. But other than that, his victories don’t come over top notch guys. You could argue that his victory over Marvin Eastman, who is facing Rampage Jackson on the same card, was against a top notch guy. However, I would argue that Marvin Eastman also hasn’t won a big fight in a while. At least not against UFC level competition.
I believe that Anderson Silva will come out of this one with a victory. He has holes in his game, but it might take a newly motivated Rich Franklin to exploit them. I don’t think Travis Lutter is ready.