UFC 234 Preview: Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya
By: Jesse Donathan
Anderson Silva is a great fighter, an icon of the sport whose legacy is forever cemented in the hallowed halls of mixed martial arts greats. Before there was Conor McGregor, before there was Ronda Rousey, there was “The Spider” Anderson Silva. A fighter who Chris Leben famously promised to send back to Japan where the competition was easier, Silva went from being a Pride FC fighter that the UFC was going to make an example out of to enhance their own brand to the sport’s biggest star. Anderson is still an elite fighter with the ability to finish virtually anyone in the UFC middleweight division even at the age of 43, nearly 44 as of April 14th of this year 2019. Whether or not Silva can turn back the clock and defeat a fighter some 14 years his junior and considered a virtual clone if not in fact a better striker than himself in Israel Adesanya is the million-dollar question.
At one point, Silva (34-8-0) went a remarkable 16-0 in the UFC, snatching the title from the well-respected former middleweight champion Rich Franklin. Silva would not look back until his infamous July, 06 2013 loss to Chris Weidman where some showboating from Silva resulted in “The Spider” getting smashed. That marked the beginning of a four-fight losing streak after his UFC 183 unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz was overturned to a no contest following a positive test for the metabolites of the performance enhancing drugs Drostanolone and Androsterone according to an August 13, 2015 bloodyelbow.com article titled, “UFC’s Anderson Silva suspended for one year following bizarre NAC hearing” by Michael Hutchinson.
Israel Adesanya (15-0) has a relentless, stifling Muay Thai offensive game that has the ability to break the will of his opponents and turn them into purely defensive minded fighters. “I know him better than he knows himself,” exclaimed Adesanya in describing his idol Anderson Silva. Originally from Nigeria, “The Last Stylebender” is a former professional kickboxer who now fights by way of New Zealand. According to a November 2, 2018 sherdog.com article titled, “5 Things You Might Not Know About Israel Adesanya” author Guy Portman writes that Adesanya is quite the dancer even entertained becoming a professional dancer prior to becoming a fighter. “There is no doubt that Adesanya’s dedication to dance has been beneficial to the rangy, 6-foot-3 pugilist’s fluid movement and exceptional footwork,” writes Portman.
“There is no scenario where Adesanya comes out this thing unscathed. There is no scenario where Anderson Silva comes out of this thing feeling great that night, gets a good night’s sleep. That just simply is not happening. One or both of these athletes is going to the hospital,” exclaimed Bad Guy Inc. CEO and ESPN analyst Chael Sonnen in his January 22, 2019 YouTube video titled, “Anderson Silva likes the stylistic matchup with Israel Adesanya…”
If Anderson Silva fights smart, this is a very winnable fight. Both Silva and Adesanya are strikers, this means stand-up fighting is their specialty. But this is a mixed martial arts fight, not a kickboxing bout, though it could easily turn into a stand-up war if both fighters choose to engage in that style of fight. Conventional wisdom has it that Adesanya is the younger, sharper, faster fighter in the cage and has the advantage in the striking department.
While this may be true, Anderson Silva is an accomplished striker in his own right and is thus intimately familiar with the stand-up game himself. This familiarity with Adesanya’s strongest fight attributes puts Silva in a perfect position to compete long enough on his feet in order to close the distance, weave his way into a grappling exchange where he can then attempt to tie Adesanya up and drag him to the floor where Silva’s Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt can become a wild card that has been put into play.
The fans use their imaginations to fill in the blanks, to create false narratives of make-believe fantasies where they get exactly what they want. In this case, a stand-up battle with Anderson Silva going out on his shield or shocking the world with one last great performance. While all of these scenario’s are possible, the quickest route to victory for Silva is to exchange just enough with Adesanya to use his own kickboxing experience to tie Adesanya up and make this a mixed martial art fight instead of a kickboxing bout where Silva enjoys an edge in experience over the undefeated, up and coming Adesanya.
Israel Adesanya has displayed the remarkable ability to improve from fight to fight, his propensity to avoid the take down and enter the matrix while his opponents remain subject to the realities of physics is impressive. Adesanya is a stand-up wizard, his keys to victory will be to stay focused and not overly respect Silva for the great former champion that he is. Israel just needs to fight his fight, it’s even possible he is the superior fighter on the outside and in the clinch, which will necessitate the fact Anderson Silva needs to make this a mixed martial arts fight, not a glorified kickboxing match. “The Last Stylebender” will need to capitalize on his youth, athleticism and technique to dismantle the former champion and introduce the world to the Israel Adesanya era. This is the biggest fight of Israel’s career, he is on the precipice of becoming a house hold name and he will certainly take one step closer to towards realizing that goal come Saturday night against the legendary Anderson Silva.
Boxing Insider Notebook: Mayweather, Anderson, Garcia, Rios, Joshua, Khan, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of December 19th to December 26th covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
USA Boxing Nationals Champion Jared Anderson America’s Next Great Heavyweight?
Christmas came early for Jared Anderson, who not only won the heavyweight title at the recent USA Boxing National Championships, the 18-year-old also captured the Most Outstanding Boxer Award in the Elite Division.
Seeded No. 7 in eight-boxer field at The Nationals, Anderson, in order, defeated No. 2 Jesus Flores in the opening round, 5-0, edged No. 3 Adrian Tillman in the semifinals, 3-2, and upset five-time national champion Cam F. Awesome, 5-0, in the championship final.
In USA Boxing’s most recently listed heavyweight ratings (Nov. 17, 2017), Tillman and Awesome are ranked No. 1 and 2, respectively, Flores is No. 5, and Anderson is unranked.
“I think that’s going to change,” Anderson noted. “Winning the heavyweight title and Most Outstanding Boxing Award meant the world to me. Maybe some people had never heard of me, but I’ve been boxing since I was eight, and I’ve faced a lot of different styles.
“I had a vendetta going with Tillman and, instead of boxing, I tried to take his head off. Simple work allowed me to beat Awesome. He is a good fighter. Cam does what he wants in the ring — throws jabs, sits there and builds up points – and intimidates some opponents. I took the fight to him. Not wild, though, because he’d have been there in the ring, calm and smiling, and I would have lost. I used my jab more than anything against him.”
One of 11 siblings in two households, Anderson is another USA Boxing success story. Growing up in Toledo, Ohio, Anderson was constantly getting into trouble in school and boxing eventually saved him. His mother convinced her son to meet a local boxing coach, who introduced Jared to boxing, drilling discipline into him, something Jared desperately needed at that point in his young life.
Boxing in Toledo has also aided his overall development in boxing. “We push each other,” Anderson explained. “We support each other and perfect our crafts. There’s a lot of support here at all the gyms in Toledo.”
Anderson represented Team USA at this past August’s 2017 Bradenburg Cup in Frankfurt, Germany, at which Anderson won the heavyweight title, as well as the Most Outstanding Boxer Award, which should have been a warning for other leading U.S. heavyweights.
As a young boxer, Anderson admired three legends who were all products of USA Boxing, U.S. Olympians and Olympic medal winners: 1. Sugar Ray Leonard – “Fast hands, speed, a phenomenal boxer.” 2. Evander Holyfield – “A warrior who could bang or box. Moved up successfully from cruiserweight to heavyweight.” 3. Muhammad Ali — “Not just because he was a great boxer, but more so because of his life.”
Right now, Anderson stand 6′ 2 and weighs 200 lbs., but he’s only 18 and should continue growing even larger. Ultimately, he wants to be heavyweight champion of the world, but Jared does have a plan.
“I want to stay as active as possible next year, competing in tournaments, and turn pro but not until after the (2020) Olympics,” Anderson concluded. “I’m not turning pro until after the (2020) Olympics. I want to win a gold medal, turn pro and win the world heavyweight title, so I can move my mother out of the ‘hood.”
Remember the name, boxing fans, Jared Anderson has the potential to be America’s next great heavyweight.
Eddie Hearn Releases Potential 2018 Fight Dates for Anthony Joshua
Boxing superstar Anthony Joshua has been the target for many of the world’s top heavyweights, including American rival Deontay Wilder.
Eddie Hearn recently indicated that they are close to confirming the next opponent for Anthony Joshua. They are looking for date on a Saturday night either near the end of March or the beginning of April.
“We’re getting there,” Hearn recently told Sky Sports. “As AJ says, he wants the belts, he wants to be the undisputed king of the division. That’s the aim, and to do that he has to win two belts.”
He continued, “We’re looking at March 24, March 31 and April 7 as potential dates for his next fight, with various different venues in London and Wales, even other venues and cities around Europe as well.”
Joseph Parker looks like the next likely opponent for Anthony Joshua.
Danny Garcia to Face Brandon Rios
Danny Garcia is scheduled to face Brandon Rios on Saturday, February 17th. This fight will be taking place on Showtime. The Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada is the announced venue.
Garcia hasn’t been seen inside a ring since his close split decision loss to Keith Thurman in March of 2017 and will have sat out for nearly a year in between fights. Rios only fought once since his loss to Timothy Bradley Jr. in November of 2015.
A loss for either fighter will likely remove them from future title shots.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. Challenges Kobe Bryant to a Game of 1 on 1
Kobe Bryant, one of Basketball’s all time greats, recently had the honor of having both of his jersey numbers retired by the Los Angeles Lakers.
Bryant posted on instagram thanking his fans, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. responded to his post. He wrote, “@ kobebryant I’m ready to play you one on one for $1,000,000”.
It’s not yet clear if this post was made in jest or if it’s for charity, but Mayweather has thrown out the challenge to Kobe.
Amir Khan Receives Death Threats for Photo of Christmas Tree
British Boxer is a practicing Muslim who recently posted a photo of a Christmas tree on his instagram.
Khan posted the Christmas tree on Instagram with the following caption, “While everyone’s asleep, daddy put the Christmas tree up. Lamaisah’s going to be happy. #Christmas #MerryChristmas2017
However, some of Khan’s followers were not happy and posted threatening messages in response.
He was accused of betraying Islam and many told him to go to hell. One person wrote, “Allah is definitely judging him for that and will surely punish those who imitate the kuffar by celebrating and joining in their pagan festivals.”
Another wrote, “You must be dead and your family will be death I promise and Allah must promise I and Allah see you and check you your angel death came to see you.”
However, some people wrote positive messages such as, “He lives in England in a western culture where Christmas is celebrated. It’s about respect just like if you were in another country. It’s for his daughter.”
“Everybody’s on Steroids” – The Concerning State of MMA
“Everybody’s on Steroids” – The Concerning State of MMA
By Jaime C. Feal
During the hype for his first fight against Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz said it best: “Everybody’s on steroids.” Diaz went on to stop McGregor at UFC 196, and then McGregor was pulled from a potential rematch at UFC 200 due to not fulfilling media obligations. That decision by Zuffa brass turned out to be a big error, as their replacement main event between Jon “Bones” Jones and Daniel Cormier fell through when Jones was pulled from the card due to a positive test for PEDs. Cormier went on to beat last minute replacement Anderson Silva in a fight that saw the crowd boo heavily due to a lack of action. Furthermore, the Cormier-Silva fight was demoted to co-main event and a woman’s title fight between Miesha Tata and Amanda Nunes ended up headlining UFC 200. And the return of WWE superstar and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, the fighter that drew the most viewers, ended up testing positive himself as was revealed by USADA the week after UFC 200. Because of an exemption Lesnar received as a late addition to the card his results did not come back in time to stop him from competing, and he will not be fined by USADA or the UFC for his positive test. Lesnar’s opponent Mark Hunt has publicly demanded he be compensated and has blasted the UFC for “throwing him under the bus.”
To make matters worse, former Featherweight title contender Chad Mendes was popped for a positive test recently and suspended 2 years by USADA, just like Jones was suspended for 2 years. The fighters can appeal their suspensions and try to reduce them, but ultimately the UFC has an enormous problem on their hands with fighters using PEDs before competing against one another in the cage. The timing of the 4 billion dollar sale of the company amidst all the positive tests is also suspect. It could be said that Station Casino and Zuffa owners Lorenzo and Frank Fertita cashed out at the right time.
Not only are fighters getting suspended left and right, but other fighters who are theoretically clean are livid. Then you have superstar fighters like Georges St. Pierre who are prime for a comeback, but have expressed concerns about stepping in the cage against juiced competition. Finally, the fans can’t be happy to see their favorite fighter(s) and sport being tainted by steroids, masking agents, and PEDs. The crisis is similar to the steroid epidemic in the 90s in Major League Baseball where even the biggest superstars were using. Now that the UFC is under new ownership, the new owners and management have a chance to affect immediate change. The sport is inherently exciting, fast-paced, and action-packed. We don’t need to artificially increase the explosiveness of the sport as baseball did with the home run. When you have two athletes competing against each other in a combat sport fairness and safety are of the utmost concern. MMA as a sport has worked hard to become regulated and accepted, and a lot of that work can be undone if somebody is seriously hurt in the cage by an opponent who tests positive for PEDs. This epidemic needs to get cleaned up quickly in the interest of all parties. Let’s hope it does.