No one knows how long MMA legend Anderson Silva will keep fighting, though even he agrees that he’s much nearer to the end of his career than the beginning. Next weekend he faces up-and-coming star Israel Adesanya at UFC 234 in Melbourne in what many commenters are categorising as a handing of the torch from one generation to another.
Changing of the MMA Guard?
Though now ranked only #15 in the middleweight division, Silva dominated the middleweight division for years, racking up 2,457 days as champion and 10 successful title defences. Since that period he has had problems with injuries, drug tests and, quite simply, ageing. However, there is still a lot of respect for the man that for many is the greatest MMA athlete of all time.
Adesanya is the firm favourite with William Hill, who are offering 1/6 on the Nigerian-New Zealander. Silva is currently at 4/1. However, according to former UFC fighter Chael Sonnen, Adesanya may not have it all his own way.
Silva has always had difficulties with wrestlers, but in Adesanya he has an opponent who will look to stay on his feet. Few doubt the younger fighter’s talent, but he will also be going up against one of the best to have ever practiced the sport.
As Sonnen says, channeling Silva, “I understand the risk that I am at going in there with a young hungry kickboxer (but) I finally have somebody that is willing to play my game. And I’m gonna show the world just how good I am at that game.”
The Road to the Middleweight Title
Whoever wins next weekend is widely expected to be fast-tracked into a title fight for the Middleweight Championship belt. That belt is also being contested at UFC 234, with current champ Robert Whittaker the 2/5 favourite over challenger Kevin Gastelum at 19/10.