Anderson Silva is undefeated in the UFC. Not all of his fights have been as exciting as MMA fans, the UFC and Dana White might have liked, but he's undefeated nonetheless. With his demolishing of Yushin Okami at UFC Rio (UFC 134), the question "Who can beat Anderson Silva?" is boggling MMA experts.
Who can beat Anderson Silva? I've been thinking about this myself an I've looked at some of Silva's fights in order to come up with a good answer. In studying some of Silva's fights, I've come up with the strategy that a fighter would need to employ in a winning effort.
First of all, let's look at what a fighter shouldn't do against Silva. He should most definitely not try to stand and trade chingasos. That's a sure way to a quick loss. Just ask Vitor Belfort (UFC 126). Silva is the premiere striker in MMA right now. His strikes are accurate and powerful. That's a bad combination for willing opponents.
So standing with Silva is out of the question. The problem then lies in getting the fight to the ground. At UFC Rio (UFC 134) Yushin Okami did a good job in the first round of closing the distance and making it a stand up grappling match. Unfortunately for Okami, in the second round, he seemed to have abandoned that strategy and stayed in Silva's striking range. If you saw the fight, you know it went down hill for Okami from there.
At UFC 112, Anderson Silva made it very clear he did not want to grapple and or go to the ground with a submission and BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) specialist. Demian Maia made the correct decision in not engaging in a stand up striking battle. Unfortunately for Maia and MMA fans, he couldn't get the fight to the ground, Silva would not be bated into a grappling match and it produced a five round snoozer.
The fight with Demian Maia did set somewhat of a blue print for a possible win against Silva. Basically, getting the fight to the ground would be a main ingredient. At UFC 117, Chael Sonnen employed that strategy to perfection. He took the fight into the fifth round by outwrestling Silva. Sonnen was winning the fight at that point. Unfortunately for Sonnen, he made a mistake in the fifth round. After taking Silva down again, he made a mistake with his ground and pound attack, Silva took advantage and slapped on a triangle/armbar from the guard that ended Sonnens hopes for beating Silva.
When looking back at these fights, the strategy to beat Silva becomes evident. A fighter needs to be a strong wrestler to be able to get the fight out of Silva's strength. A fighter with wrestling abilities like Chael Sonnen. But this fighter needs an excellent ground game or at least a stronger submission defense than Sonnen. Once the fight gets to the ground this, fighter needs to have a ground game like Damian Maia, or a stronger ground and pound than Sonnen so he can finish the fight on the ground.
The only fighter on the horizon with the abilities to beat Anderson Silva in the Middleweight division is Mark Munoz. Mark Munoz has comparable wrestling abilities to Chael Sonnen. Munoz though, has more punching power. Munoz also has never been submitted. Munoz is on a a three fight winning streak and I see him posing a strong threat to Anderson Silva. UFC, make this fight happen!