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A true changing of the guard moment: Israel Adesanya v. Anderson Silva is a fight MMA fans will remember forever

In a fight that wasn’t about ego or genuine hate, Silva v. Adesanya was a fight that brought the entire MMA community together.

At UFC 234, two fighters were given a last-minute chance to shine in the main event. Thanks to champion Robert Whittaker pulling out due to injury, Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva moved to the spot saved for the top fights in MMA today. While only given three rounds, the fight between the student and the teacher proved itself to be something special; a moment nobody will ever forget.

In the end, the young Adesanya defeated the 43-year-old Silva via unanimous decision, 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.

In front of a sold-out crowd in Melbourne, Australia, Adesanya (16-0) and Silva (34-9, 1 NC) put on a performance that may not be technically considered a classic, but the story behind it was. Israel idolized the legendary Silva, who at one point was the most dominant Middleweight Champion of all time. In fact, Adesanya’s entire moveset is reminiscent of Silva, who’s deadly kicks have beaten a who’s who of opponents. While Silva is not the same as he once was, going through multiple surgeries and setbacks, a glimpse of the old “Spider” appeared.

Maybe Adesanya was going easy on his mentor; everything appeared so smooth, as if it was done in slow motion. The bout ended up being a game of one-upmanship; anything you can do I can do better. The cockiness of both fighters was in effect, using mind games to truly bring out the best in one another.

Silva did end up going for a classic knee in the third after throwing Adesanya off of his game. The latter quickly moved out of the way, however, and landed plenty of stiff shots to the face, even though Silva did not seem affected by it. Shaking hands with less than two minutes to go, the fight could have very well gone either way, if only based on the respect and repetitive nature of the fight.

For the first time in a while, it wasn’t about ego or who called the other one something. Adesanya and Silva went out there to put on a performance similar to a masterpiece. At first, the Silva fight was reminiscent to his fight against Derek Brunson at UFC 208; a healthy Silva looking good but not quite taking control. Brunson lost the bout, which was Silva’s last fight before last night, via UD. This time, the judges gave the score to the younger fighter, who has now become a title contender overnight.

Fighting Silva was a dream come true for Adesanya, and who could blame him?

“This is like, if I’m playing basketball, to play against Michael Jordan. This is it for me,” Adesanya stated after the fight.

After the bout, Silva and Adesanya embraced, with the former seemingly passing the torch to the Nigerian from New Zealand. As for Silva? he would love to fight Nick Diaz again. In general, though, the future UFC Hall of Famer just wants to feel the thrill of fighting.

“I love my job. I know it’s tough. This game is tough,” Silva stated after the fight. “This is my heart. This is my life. I continue to fight because this is my heart.” 

They say baseball brings people together and that boxing can tear at their heartstrings. For one night, MMA had several moments like that, and more.

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Baseball Editor, Misc. Sports Editor. Covers all things combat sports (MMA, Pro Wrestling and Boxing). When he's not writing, Daniel hosts a podcast, The Main Event.
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