All-time great Silva fighting to remain relevant at UFC 208

Anderson Silva poses in the ringIf Anderson Silva has anything left to prove, it’s that he’s still capable of winning in the UFC now that he’s north of 40 years old. Silva holds records for longest fight win streak (16) and most title defenses (10), but his last UFC victory happened more than four years ago, which is why he enters UFC 208 on Saturday as a slight underdog against Derek Brunson.

Along with his win streak and title defenses, Silva holds the UFC record for most all-time knockdowns (17), which speaks to how fearsome his fighting style was in his prime. His precision Muay Thai striking and incredible mobility would often overwhelm opponents in the opening round, leading to punch or knee knockouts. His combination of speed and lanky limbs was too much for opponents to counter even if they weathered his knockout blows, and he did it all with a swagger that made it look effortless. Only two fights during Silva’s streak—which lasted from April 2006 through 2012—required a judges’ decision, with Silva ending the rest in a knockout or submission.

Silva hasn’t been the same since December 2013, when he fractured multiple bones in his leg while attempting to recapture the middleweight title from Chris Weidman, who ended Silva’s streak five months prior. A lengthy recovery kept him out of the octagon for more than a year, and his first fight back was declared a no contest after he tested positive for banned substances. Subsequent bouts against Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier were entertaining, but Silva lost both in unanimous decisions. He has five fights remaining on his contract with UFC, and retirement isn’t in his plans—yet.

Brunson is almost nine years younger than Silva, and he shares Silva’s penchant for using speed and wingspan to finish opponents quickly, although Brunson mostly prefers to use his fists. Most of the rangy striker’s UFC wins have come in the first round, but Brunson lost against Robert Whittaker last November, ending his run of four consecutive first-round knockouts. A win against Silva would put Brunson back on track for a middleweight title shot down the road, but it could also be the last time Silva is considered a formidable foe in the crowded division he once ruled for the better part of a decade.