by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com

Anderson Silva has solidified himself as one of the most dominant<br /> fighters on the planet since coming to the UFC with his devastating striking<br /> and intimidating style

Silva has solidified himself as one of the most dominant fighters on the planet
since coming to the Ultimate Fighting Championship with his devastating
striking and intimidating style. He has knocked out former middleweight
champion Rich Franklin twice, finished Nate Marquardt and also dispatched of
Chris Leben and Travis Lutter.


Now Silva
will face likely the toughest challenge of his entire career as he squares off
against the last Pride 183-pound champion, Dan Henderson, at UFC 82: Pride of a


Here is a
breakdown of what Silva will bring into his title fight with Henderson.



There is no
question that Anderson Silva’s biggest weapon is his unbelievable stand-up and
Muay Thai clinch game. He has shown throughout the years to have pinpoint
accuracy with his punches, working a perfect boxing jab to set up anything from
kicks to his signature knee strikes.


Silva is
willing to give up position to go for a big strike, as he did in his fight with
Travis Lutter in which he went for a flying knee and ended up putting the
jiu-jitsu fighter in his guard when the knee didn’t land flush.


His Muay
Thai clinch is legendary, especially going back to watch his fights with former
champ Rich Franklin, in which he was literally able to move the fight around
the cage by controlling his opponent’s head and neck with his clinch.


Silva may
be the best striker that has ever set foot into MMA and because of the
diversity of his strikes. No one can predict (ask Tony Fryklund) how he will
find a way to knock an opponent out.



aren’t too many weak spots in Silva’s game, but when compared to Henderson this
may be the one place he will lack coming into this fight.


previously mentioned, Silva is a fighter who is willing to take chances in his
stand-up game, which can ultimately land him on the ground or pulling guard on
his opponent, leaving him to deal with a ground and pound attack from above.


The one
moment in his UFC career that could be classified as Silva being in trouble was
in his fight against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt Travis Lutter, when Lutter
passed the champion’s guard and ended up mounting him and reigning down shots.
Silva stayed calm and composed and worked his way out, but he did put himself
in that position. If he ends up in a similar position with Henderson he may not
find a way out.


What Silva
does do very effectively is control his opponent’s grappling with his jiu-jitsu
background. His long legs are troublesome for most fighters at 185-pounds
because he is able to lock on guard or even a body triangle with his legs and
keep his opponent from raising up and throwing any power shots. Add to this
Silva’s ability to throw very dangerous elbows from the bottom and even in that
position his strikes can end a fight.


In his
fight with Nathan Marquardt, Silva nullified Marquardt’s ground attack by using
his defensive guard game and eventually the fight made its way back to the


While his
wrestling is suspect, his overall grappling can still be very useful in ending
a fight.



One aspect
of his game that gets overshadowed many times when talking about the current
middleweight champion is his tremendous jiu-jitsu game.


Holding a
black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under the Nogueira brothers, Silva uses his
long arms and legs to trap an opponent and look for submissions during a fight.
He was able to trap Lutter in a triangle choke employing this very strategy
in their fight.


guard could be one of the best in the business because he is able to avoid
taking much punishment while on the bottom and at the same time he is
consistently looking for opportunities to move his legs up an opponent’s back
looking for an armbar, triangle choke, or another submission.


While his
win over Lutter is classified as submission by strikes, it was his triangle
choke that trapped Lutter and allowed Silva to unload elbows to his head to end
the fight. He may never be seen in the same light as his jiu-jitsu trainers,
the Nogueira brothers, when it comes to his ground game, but he can be just as
equally as dangerous if he can lock onto an arm or an opponent’s neck to finish
a fight.



Silva has
literally controlled the pace of every single fight he’s had in the UFC if you
break it down to the fact that he’s able to put his opponent where he wants
them in almost any position. On the feet, it’s almost a forgone conclusion
that Silva’s movements seem to keep any opponent on the defensive and if he
locks on his Muay Thai clinch, a look of panic almost washes over a fighter.


Silva is
also able to control the fight on the ground because of his superior jiu-jitsu.
He uses the ground just enough to get his opponent to stand back up where he
shows his true superiority.



Anytime a
fight is five-rounds versus three, the question of conditioning has to be
asked. As of yet, Silva has done nothing to make us ask questions about his gas
tank. None of his fights have made it out of the second round. But since
defeating Franklin in October 2006 to win the middleweight title, he has
prepared for three subsequent title fights, which potentially could have gone
five rounds.


stand-up game is so unbelievably controlled that it’s just not likely that he
would gas himself out trying to finish an opponent with a flurry of punches or
kicks because that is simply not his style. He is accurate and deadly with his
jab and clinch work, and he doesn’t over exert himself when it’s not necessary.


On top of
that, Silva isn’t a fighter who cuts a lot of weight to make the 185-pound
limit, so there is little worry of him cutting weight the wrong way and losing
energy during a fight.



training camp for the upcoming fight with Henderson included Antonio Rodrigo
Nogueira and his brother Rogerio Nogueira, both of which have fought and
defeated Henderson in past matches. While it is not likely that Silva will
employ the same game plan that they did, it can be a mental edge to have that
advantage in his corner.


As far as
common opponents, Silva and Henderson do share a couple, but it’s not likely
those fights will gauge where these two will go in their match-up. Silva and
Henderson both faced Ryo Chonan. While Henderson knocked him out in under a
minute, Chonan defeated Silva with one of the craziest submissions in MMA
history, but it’s not likely to be duplicated in this fight.


knocked out Carlos Newton, while Henderson defeated him by unanimous decision.


While Silva
has shown an icy demeanor in the cage when fighting and an almost vicious style
that seems to put his opponents away, what could break his concentration in
this fight is if Henderson is able to take him down and control him on the mat
repeatedly. If this happens, Silva could become frustrated and give up a
dominant position to Henderson, but again, every round starts standing and
that’s where Silva is most dangerous.



For Silva
to defeat Henderson, the game plan seems simple… keep the fight standing and
work the Pride champion over with jabs until he moves in and gets caught in a
Muay Thai clinch that could end the fight. Henderson has shown a tendency to
stand with more and more opponents lately and if he plays with fire in this
match-up, he may very well get burned.


What Silva
doesn’t want to do is become tentative because of Henderson’s wrestling
pedigree and keep away and not go for any big strikes. Silva’s tendency to
throw the flying knee or big kick, while dangerous to both his opponent and
himself, is an intimidating weapon that may keep Henderson from shooting for
his legs and make him only work for a Greco-Roman clinch takedown.


If the
fight makes it to the ground, Silva needs to frustrate Henderson much like he
did Nate Marquardt and not let him work any real offensive ground and pound.
Back on the feet, Silva should pepper Henderson with jabs because of his longer
reach and then move in for the kill if he’s able to put his opponent against
the cage and unload a barrage of punches and knees.