Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight kingpin, Anderson Silva, will take on social media star, Jake Paul, this Saturday (Oct. 29, 2022) on FITE.tv / Showtime pay-per-view (PPV) from Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona.
Expectations were not high when Silva transitioned over to the boxing ring. Sure, Silva is a striking legend inside the Octagon, and unlike most, he’s actually boxed previously. Even so, Silva was in his mid-40s and entering a different sport following an unceremonious end to his UFC career — it was hard to be too confident. Then, Silva took out Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in an upset that shocked fans and oddsmakers alike. He spanked Tito Ortiz, which didn’t mean much, but it was fun. Now, he challenges some kid off YouTube, and it actually feels like he is MMA’s chosen representative this time around. 47 years of age or not, Silva is a different animal than Tyron Woodley.
Interest and belief in “The Spider” is renewed. Let’s take a closer look at his boxing skill:
BOXING BLOCKBUSTER! International superstar and serial risk-taker, Jake “The Problem Child” Paul, will face the biggest challenge of his budding boxing career when he takes on former UFC Middleweight champion, Anderson “The Spider” Silva, inside Gila River Arena in Phoenix, Ariz., on Sat., Oct. 29, 2022, streaming live on FITE.tv (and Showtime) pay-per-view (PPV). “Paul vs. Silva,” which will also feature retired UFC veteran Uriah Hall taking on former NFL running back Le’Veon Bell, start time is slated for 9 p.m. ET, with a PPV price tag of $59.99.
Inside the cage, Silva was known for decimating opponents with knees, kicks, and elbows as much as punches. With so many of his best weapons removed from the playing field, it was unclear how the Southpaw would adapt to the ring. Based on his pair of 2021 fights — an admittedly small sample size — Silva has adjusted quite well.
Silva carved out a place in MMA history as its greatest counter striker. He would dazzle his opponent with range offense, convince them to step forward, then drop the hurt from his backfoot in a gorgeous display of timing and distance. It’s not quite that simple in the ring. Most boxers that are not Tito Ortiz are unwilling to just rush forward into counter shots. Silva doesn’t get to winning the kicking battle and force his opponent to play into his hand.
Allow “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” to demonstrate why it’s a bad idea below.
The Tito clip actually serves as an excellent segue and example of one change: pocket fighting. Now, Silva has never been uncomfortable in the boxing distance. He’s always been willing to drop his hands or fully trust his head movement to keep him safe and open up counter opportunities. However, he’s now staying in that range longer and firing more shots.
Chavez Jr. tried to bully Silva a bit. He came out firing hard, looping right hands to the head and body. He expected to back Silva up, but “The Spider” was willing to stand his ground. Often, Silva would start slipping and rolling before coming out the right side with a heavy right hook, much like the one that stopped Ortiz.
It wasn’t just single shots though. Off his head movement, Silva was willing to keep his feet planted and fire in combination. He’d follow that right hook up with a second to the body, or he would mix right uppercuts into the combination. As the fight wore on, Silva grew more confident and actually started backing Chavez Jr. into the ropes. He forced the close distance exchanges, very comfortably picking his shots in the brief moments when their gloves separated.
Some classic Silva counter punching and other antics were on display in that bout as well. Silva, for example, put himself in the corner in the fourth round. Chavez Jr. took the bait like many before him, saw his punches blocked, then ended the round getting flurried on. Silva may not be at his peak, but his reflexes are still sharp enough to parry shots and fire back with good success.
On the whole, Silva’s lead hand is more effective than ever. He did a fair bit of leading with his left cross, but often, the strike just helped him close forward and set up the right hook. Silva made good use of the corkscrew lead uppercut as well, catching Chavez Jr. off-guard several times after previously establishing the straight jab.
Silva definitely still has some MMA funkiness to his boxing game. For example, there were a couple occasions where Silva lifted his lead leg and stomped forward into a right hook or jab. That’s common enough when low kicks are allowed, but a bit strange in a fistfight! Even weirder, Silva reached down and touched his shoe into a punch — a tactic neither Chavez Jr. nor the referee seemed to appreciate.
Similar to his MMA career, Silva has given a lot of different defensive looks. Early on, he started with his hands tight to his chin and stuck to pretty simple combinations. As the fight wore on and Silva understood his foe’s timing, he began to adjust his hand position. He’d shoulder roll more or rely on his Wing Chun style parrying. At various points, Silva was completely willing to drop his hands, and he never really paid any price for his confidence.
“The Spider” remains a difficult man to hit.
Silva remains as crafty as they come, comfortable and experienced. It also really seems like the Brazilian can still crack based on the reactions of his foes in the ring! He’s a major test for Paul, but regardless of that outcome, Silva still can find many intriguing match ups in the ring if he continues to perform well.
Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.