UFC middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva has ascended to the very peak of mixed martial arts competition. He holds the record for most consecutive UFC victories at thirteen, as well as most successful title defenses at eight. Tomorrow night, in front of a hometown crowd in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Silva will put his title on the line against the last man who blemished his record: Yushin Okami.
Silva and Okami met in the opening round of the Rumble on the Rock welterweight championship tournament in early 2006, when Thunder was riding a five-fight winning streak and Silva had just rebounded from a spectacular submission loss to Ryo Chonan by stringing together two victories. The paths to victory for each man were as clear then as they are now: Silva wanted to keep things standing and Okami wanted to grab hold of The Spider and wrestle him to the mat.
When the two met in the cage, Silva immediately began to dance around Okami; it wasn’t long before he’d sent home two leg kicks that caused Thunder to dive for a takedown from too far away. Silva wouldn’t have it and avoided a subsequently telegraphed takedown attempt before forcing Okami to his back. He stood over his opponent, chopping at his thighs with leg kicks he couldn’t have hoped to block until the referee called for them to stand again.
After rising un-eagerly to his feet, Okami was subject to a blitz from Silva, who was starting to smell blood. After firing off another laser-guided leg kick, he backed Thunder up with three hard, straight punches and started to stalk him around the cage.
Okami tried again for the takedown, for the clinch — both times he was denied.
Finally, Okami found The Spider’s legs and forced him to his back. They tangled and fought for position; just as Okami held posture on Silva and started in with a bit of ground and pound, The Spider pulled out his right leg, raised it back and dropped it like an anvil on Okami’s chin. The blow immediately sent Okami reeling backward, clearly out of sorts.
It was determined shortly thereafter that Thunder would be unable to continue and that the blow Silva put him down with was an illegal one in that promotion, thus granting Okami the win via disqualification.
Now, Silva and Okami are poised for a rematch, which is to take place tomorrow night at the HSBC Arena in The Spider’s backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Will Okami upset Silva on his home turf to do what his training partner Chael Sonnen almost did and capture the belt, or will The Spider’s reign continue on after he scores another spectacular win in front of his friends and family? Check back on FightLine.com for our live, ongoing coverage of UFC 134: Silva vs. Okami tomorrow night to find out.