MMA  > General MMA  > Anderson is getting Old
August 14, 2010, 02:42 AM
Aging always feels like a difficult subject to broach: We all know we're getting older, but it feels rude to point it out about anyone else. But you can't follow sports and not be acutely aware of how athletes change as they age, and on Saturday night at UFC 117, we were reminded of a simple fact that it had so far been easy to overlook: Anderson Silva is getting old.

Although he managed to pull out a submission victory in the fifth round of his fight with Chael Sonnen, Saturday night's fight was by far the worst of Silva's UFC career. When an athlete Silva's age offers up a sub-par performance, it's hard not to conclude that age was a factor.

Silva is the oldest champion in any of the seven major weight classes in MMA, and he almost certainly will be for as long as he remains champion. Silva turned 35 in April, making him more than two years older than the next-oldest champion. And for that matter, Sonnen, at 33, is older than all of the fighters who could become a champion later this year.

Consider:
* UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar is 33, and No. 1 contender Cain Velasquez is 28.
* UFC light heavyweight champion Shogun Rua is 28, and No. 1 contender Rashad Evans is 30.
* UFC welterweight champion George St. Pierre is 29, and No. 1 contender Josh Koscheck is 32.
* UFC lightweight champion Frank Edgar is 28, and No. 1 contender B.J. Penn is 31.
* WEC featherweight champion Jose Aldo is 23, and No. 1 contender Manny Gamburyan is 29.
* WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz is 24, and No. 1 contender Joseph Benavidez is 26.

MMA is a young man's game. Randy Couture may be able to fight at a high level into his 40s, but Couture is an extreme outlier, not a fighter whose career path other fighters can realistically hope to emulate.There are plenty of former MMA champions who already look like they're showing their age and are younger than Silva: Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira is 34. Mike Brown is 34. Fedor Emelianenko is 33. Rampage Jackson is 32. Urijah Faber is 31. Miguel Torres is 29.

I'm not the only one who has taken notice of Silva's age. Sergio Non of USA Today pointed out Silva's age in noting that Sonnen managed to hit Silva with the kind of strikes that Silva used to avoid easily, while Silva didn't strike with the same kind of speed that we'd grown accustomed to seeing from him. And Jonathan Snowden of Bloody Elbow made a perceptive comment before the Sonnen fight comparing Silva to Roy Jones Jr., who was seemingly unbeatable in his late 20s and early 30s but has never been the same since turning 35.

Silva isn't done yet. He's still the best middleweight in MMA, and I'll pick him to win his next fight whether it's against Sonnen or Vitor Belfort. But age has closed the gap between Anderson Silva and the rest of the middleweight division. It won't be long before he suffers the fate of every elite athlete who sticks around long enough, and loses to a younger opponent.
Comment #1 has been removed
August 14, 2010  09:08 AM ET

jim, stop pushing the subject. Give it up.
ONE performance means nothing. you are just being hard headed.

August 14, 2010  09:09 AM ET

you know what, why don't you put your opinion to the test? Send me a challenge. I'll take it.

August 14, 2010  03:00 PM ET

Let's go!

A Jim and Roni throwdown? YES!

August 14, 2010  03:02 PM ET
QUOTE(#4):

Let's go!A Jim and Roni throwdown? YES!

200 letters will be an issue. we need 200 comments minimum :)

Comment #6 has been removed
August 14, 2010  05:19 PM ET
QUOTE(#6):

Still contemplating it. Its hard because people hate to hear their favorite athletes are getting old.

don't BS your way out. this is the third argument you start with the same BS. If every writer like you make it seem thinks the same, it should be a landslide for you.

if all of a sudden logic is hitting you, and this can't simply be true, you are just a hater. And don't come back saying you think he is the best because it goes to the same Fedor argument. Haters always said I don't think he's that great but I put him on #1 and as soon as he got his first loss in more than a decade, he's not even on top 10 P4P.

August 14, 2010  05:20 PM ET
QUOTE(#7):

don't BS your way out. this is the third argument you start with the same BS. If every writer like you make it seem thinks the same, it should be a landslide for you.if all of a sudden logic is hitting you, and this can't simply be true, you are just a hater. And don't come back saying you think he is the best because it goes to the same Fedor argument. Haters always said I don't think he's that great but I put him on #1 and as soon as he got his first loss in more than a decade, he's not even on top 10 P4P.

to complete, You are doing the same. You can't outright say he sucks, but keeps repeating he is old. However, you can't say too much because he won.

August 14, 2010  11:13 PM ET

Anderson Silva may be old...but Arn Anderson's just getting warmed up.

August 14, 2010  11:38 PM ET

I love how nobody brings this up when he dominates everyone. Then when he gets in some trouble but still still wins people say he is on the downside of his career.

Come on Jim!

August 15, 2010  12:20 AM ET

i feel like this happens all the time

someone happens in a PPV and we all have so long to wait till the next one that we examine it to death to the point of overexamining. Silva had a bad showing where he escaped with a win. If it becomes consistent, then we can worry. Other than that, I won't believe it

August 15, 2010  10:01 AM ET

that was exactly my point.
Just 4 moths ago he humiliated Maia with his speed.
an year ago, he humiliated Griffin with his dazzling speed.

His last fight is exactly the same type as BJ's last fight. A lacaidistical fight.
Yet for Jim, BJ is still young and Silva is old.

but don't bring Randy's name into the conversation. 35 is old. Randy is not.

August 15, 2010  12:48 PM ET
QUOTE(#12):

that was exactly my point.Just 4 moths ago he humiliated Maia with his speed.an year ago, he humiliated Griffin with his dazzling speed.His last fight is exactly the same type as BJ's last fight. A lacaidistical fight.Yet for Jim, BJ is still young and Silva is old.but don't bring Randy's name into the conversation. 35 is old. Randy is not.

If Anderson is old what is Randy?

Please share.

August 15, 2010  01:35 PM ET

Not too sure age was the entire factor of Silva's performance. He was coming off a long layoff from elbow surgery--think that probably had more to do with it

August 15, 2010  01:36 PM ET

I don't even consider the Maia fight anything that helped shake the ring rust

August 15, 2010  01:52 PM ET

I think the key question is: was Anderson Silva really fighting with injured ribs?

August 15, 2010  02:11 PM ET

But I'll add this:

- Sonnen took down Nate Marquardt at will and implemented his gameplan. Same against Okami. He basically beat 2 world class Middleweights, getting those takedowns and avoiding submissions or sweeps. He was dominant.

- He did the same against Anderson Silva, with the difference that Silva submitted him with a triangle choke (and, please, those people who even try to say that Silva was lucky are obviously very ignorant about the sport).

So, are Marquardt and Okami getting old too?

Everyone gets old but let's not declare Anderson as being past his prime just yet.

Also, it's not the first time Silva has been dominated on the ground. Carlos Newton was dominating him, Takase dominated him, Dan Henderson did it for an entire round and even Otsuka had a good measure of ground control on him.

 
August 15, 2010  04:13 PM ET
QUOTE:

Silva is the oldest champion in any of the seven major weight classes in MMA

Who cares about his age as long as he keeps performing? I may be mistakin but Randy Couture won 2 championships well over the age of 35. He is still considered a great fighter, not a champion contender but a great fighter non the less.

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