Lately I've been seeing a trend that I pray will stop, the continuous bashing and questioning of Anderson Silva. Now, I am one of those people that has questioned him, but I haven't written 200 articles about it. Quite frankly, I'm tired of it.
Anderson Silva, no matter what you currently think about him, is one of the greatest champions in UFC history.
It was that last statement that got me wondering.
For the past week or so I've been working my brain and my keyboard to exhaustion trying to find the answer to one question. Who is the greatest champion in UFC history?
Immediately names like Matt Hughes and Chuck Liddell sprung into my head. Their dominance with the belt is unparalleled. Then I started really looking into it. Guys like Royce Gracie, Randy Couture, and even Tito Ortiz would pop out of my brain.
But who is number one?
I have compiled a list of the greatest champions in UFC history. The names I have chosen are:
This is how things are going to work. This will be an elimination style tournament. I will use nothing but stats to determine who I eliminate, and who ultimately wins. You can be sure that their is no bias. With that being said, I will make my first elimination.
- Chuck Liddell- Former UFC Light Heavyweight champion
- Matt Hughes- Former UFC Welterweight Champion
- Tito Ortiz- Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion
- Royce Gracie- UFC 1, 2, and 4 tournament champion
- Anderson Silva- Current UFC Middleweight Champion
- Randy Couture- Former UFC Heavyweight and Light-Heavyweight Champ
- Frank Shamrock- Former UFC Middleweight Champion
- Pat Miletich- Former UFC Welterweight Champion
The first stat I will use for elimination is total title defenses for a career. This means that if a fighter had more than one reign, defenses from all reigns count as one total. The two men with the least defenses will be eliminated.
Chuck Liddell- Four successful defenses
Matt Hughes- Seven successful defense (Two reigns)
Tito Ortiz- Five successful title defenses
Royce Gracie- Never actually defended a title
Anderson Silva- Five successful title defenses
Randy Couture- Three successful title defenses (Five reigns)
Frank Shamrock- Four successful title defenses
Pat Miletich- Four successful title defenses
Unfortunately for two absolute legends, the tournament ends. Royce Gracie never actually won a title meaning that he had nothing to defend. You may be asking "Why was he even in the tournament then?". Answer, because you can't have a UFC legends tournament without Royce Gracie.
Next man gone from the tournament, "Captain America" Randy Couture. I really hate to do this to Randy, especially considering he is one of the all-time great. The guy has won five title in his UFC career, unfortunately, he wasn't very good at defending them. For this, he is gone.
My next subject for elimination, stoppages. Now, for me, I hate watching the lay and pray technique. I know that fighters will do anything to win, but just because you can take a guy down and lay on him, that doesn't make you dominant.
Lets look at the percentage of the total amount of wins that were stoppages for each fighter. Of course, I am only counting stoppages with the title.
I will now eliminate the bottom two.
- Chuck Liddell- 100% of wins were by way of stoppage
- Matt Hughes- 81% of wins were by way stoppage
- Tito Ortiz- 80% of wins were by way of stoppage
- Anderson Silva- 83% of wins were by way of stoppage
- Frank Shamrock- 100% of wins were by way of stoppage
- Pat Miletich- 75% of wins were by stoppage
By just one percentage point, Matt Hughes stays in the tournament. Both Tito Ortiz and Pat Miletich are gone. Obviously, the more defenses you have, the more decisions you could afford without it depleting your percentage, which is the reason why Miletich is gone. He had just one decision, but he only had four defenses.
Tito also had just one fight go to decision, but that one decision cost him.
We are now left with Chuck Liddell, Matt Hughes, Anderson Silva, and the dark horse Frank Shamrock. In all honesty, I did not see Frank Shamrock being in the final four. Can he take it all the way?
Next up on my list of destruction, I mean elimination, combined opponents records. Ah, the all important statistic of opponents records. This will truly separate the men from the boys.
By the way, I will be using the record of opponents at the time of the fight. Anything said opponent accomplished after his bout with the champ is irrelevant.
FOUL ON THE PLAY!
- Chuck Liddell-Combined opponents record of 131-29-5
- Matt Hughes-Combined opponents record of 85-11-4
- Anderson Silva-Combined opponents record of 96-19-3
- Frank Shamrock-Combined opponents record of 102-30-10
Both Chuck Liddell and Frank Shamrock have very weighted records. What do I mean by that? Both men fought Jeremy Horn.
For those that don't know who Jeremy Horn is, or don't know his record, the man has fought over 100 times. 104 to be exact.
If I were to subtract his record from Chuck and Franks scores, this would be the result:
What do I do about this? Obviously this will cause at least one casualty, that casualty will be Frank Shamrock. He had a great run, but the guys he fought other than Horn, two of them I've never heard of, and the other is Tito Ortiz.
- Chuck Liddell-Combined opponents record of 55-20
- Frank Shamrock-Combined opponents record of 22-11-5
After about 20 minutes of deliberation, I have decided to eliminate Chuck as well. Don't get me wrong here, Chuck beat some great fighters. Renato Sobral, Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, the man has taken down some serious talent. But it just wasn't enough. Anderson Silva has a much better opponents record, and Matt Hughes took down more, better fighters.
Anderson Silva VS Matt Hughes
Anderson has put together the longest win streak in UFC history, and has done so with a belt wrapped comfortably around his waist. Maybe now all the Silva bashing can stop. Statistics can do that.
Matt Hughes. What can I say? I, personally, don't like the guy. But personality aside, he is the greatest welterweight in not only UFC history (so far) but the best welterweight in MMA history (so far).
How do I determine a winner? I figured that being these men are two weight classes apart, they have no common opponents. I was wrong.
These men have two fighters that they have both fought. Carlos Newton and Hayato Sakurai.
Anderson Silva KO'd Newton with a flying knee while Hughes KO'd Newton with a powerbomb in their first fight and won by TKO in their second.
With "Mach" Sakurai, Anderson beat him by unanimous decision, and Matt Hughes beat him by fourth round TKO.
As much as I want to use this statistic (one that would give Hughes the win with a 3-0 record over a 2-0 record of Silva), I can't. Why?
While Hughes fought both Newton and "Mach" for the title, Anderson did not. Being that this is a greatest champion tournament, I can't use Anderson's non-title fights.
20 Minute Research Break
It took me a while, but I have come up with a way to determine the greatest UFC champion. Average cage time while champion.
A short cage time is the epitome of a dominant fight. So what are the average cage times of these fighters?
Anderson Silva's average cage while champion is 11:09. That is a little more than two rounds per fight. Is it possible that a wrestler could have an average cage time that is less than that?
The average cage time of Matt Hughes is..... only about one minute off of Anderson Silvas. His cage time came in at a very surprising 12:07. I expected it to be way higher for some reason.
That last stat makes Anderson Silva the greatest champion in UFC history. Better than Tito Ortiz, Frank Shamrock, Royce Gracie, Randy Couture, Pat Miletich, Chuck Liddell, and Matt Hughes.
Honestly, I always thought Matt Hughes was the greatest, but statistically speaking, Anderson Silva is the greatest champion in UFC history. With five title defenses, an 83% finish rate, a combined opponents record while champion at 96-19-3 and an average cage time of just 11 minutes and nine seconds, their is no longer any argument.