Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva are considered two of the best forwards to ever compete in the sport of MMA. Adesanya and Silva have been praised time and again for their surprisingly innovative and outstanding understanding of the complexities of the standing aspect of martial arts.
‘The Last Stylebender’ and ‘The Spider’ are not strangers to each other. Reigning UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya has often claimed that former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is one of his idols. Meanwhile, Silva has also expressed his respect for the Nigerian-New Zealander in the past.
However, that didn’t stop the two MMA stalwarts from going to war with each other inside the Octagon. Israel Adesanya fought Anderson Silva in a three-round middleweight fight that served as the headliner for the UFC 234 undercard (February 10, 2019).
Israel Adesanya overcame and defeated Anderson Silva by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27). However, many believe that if this fight had taken place in Silva’s prime, his outcome would have been very different. Today, we take a look at this much-discussed ‘what if’ scenario and look at how a fight between the main versions of Adesanya and Silva would play out …
# 3 Israel Adesanya wouldn’t have been able to control the range against an excellent Anderson Silva
The consensus in the combat sports world is that Israel Adesanya was in his athletic prime when he faced Anderson Silva, while Silva was not. Currently 31 and 46 years old respectively, the age difference between Adesanya and Silva is quite evident and surely gave the reigning champion an advantage in their fight.
Regardless, assuming both Adesanya and Silva were in their respective best moments when they fought each other, their fight would have played out quite differently. Adesanya would not have been able to control the attack range against a great Silva.
Jan Blachowicz’s unorthodox punching rhythm challenged Israel Adesanya on his feet, albeit with the threat of a takedown. Well, Anderson Silva, at the top of his game, was a master at setting his pace and making his opponent fight based on the punch.
Silva would go from slow to moderate to lightning, almost unpredictably. And he would definitely confuse Adesanya with his in-and-out movement, timing, and precise strikes.
# 2 Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva would probably let grappling take a backseat like they did in their UFC 234 fight
Even against an excellent Anderson Silva, Israel Adesanya is unlikely to use his offensive grappling skills. Their UFC 234 matchup was primarily a kickboxing match under MMA rules, and it would have been the same if they had met in Silva’s prime.
Both Adesanya and Silva possess criminally underrated fighting skills. But with his fighting skills on the back burner in this fight, it would be a purely amazing war.
However, an important point to keep in mind when it comes to grip in this matchup is that Adesanya would have had a difficult time defending against Silva’s grip on the feet.
He would have gotten into serious trouble with Silva’s clinch work and the Muay Thai plum. Ultimately, it would be Silva’s punches that would hurt Adesanya, but his grip on the clinch would be the weapon that would set up the killing blows.
# 1 Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva’s mental war would have been out of the ordinary
Anderson Silva has always prioritized the concepts of honor and respect throughout his combat sports career. But that said, Silva was, and still is, a master in the realm of mental warfare.
Silva is usually quite respectful of his opponents before and after the fight, but he has been known to tease and get involved in the show during the fight. Silva’s mental toughness and showmanship inside the Octagon would have acted as an antidote to Adesanya’s skill and mind games.
Simply put, it would be safe to say that while Israel Adesanya and Anderson Silva are capable of beating each other in their prime, Adesanya would have had one of his toughest fights had he faced ‘The Spider’ in his main.