Anderson Silva: Through the Eyes of Greatness

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2013

Anderson Silva - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
Anderson Silva - Esther Lin/MMAFighting

As the camera rolls, Anderson Silva can be seen locked into a deep discussion about superheroes.

The man behind the camera in the video blog asks the UFC middleweight champ to describe his personal vision for the next great superhero film.

Silva immediately looks down and fumbles around nervously before revealing his precious plot to resurrect the Batman franchise.

"It's the best one yet. It's what is gonna save Batman...We've got Superman, that has superpowers and doesn't get old. We've got the Hulk, that gets mad and turns green. We've got other superheroes, but Batman doesn't have superpowers and he gets old. That is when my story begins..."

Oddly enough, the story of one of the greatest fighters in MMA history didn't truly begin until he was 31-years-old.

The scene is set in the compact, dim lit Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Paradise, Nevada. Current stars like Josh Koscheck, Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch are still fighting on the undercard as newcomer Anderson Silva headlines UFC Fight Night 5 against top middleweight contender Chris Leben.

Hardcore fans knew the type of fighter Silva could be, but no one anticipated what was about to unfold on that fateful night of June 28, 2006.

The vast majority saw Silva as another stepping stone for Leben's march towards a UFC title shot. MMA fans all over the globe were splashed with a cold dose of reality as Silva landed 100-percent of his strikes in a 49-second pummeling of Leben.

It was as if the world's best-kept secret was suddenly revealed.

After his mind-blowing performance against Leben, Silva was awarded a UFC title shot against MMA legend Rich Franklin, which wasn't a popular decision amongst fans. Silva faced hordes of criticism for not being able to speak English and receiving a title shot after only one fight in the UFC. He was treated as a leper that may never fit in and be accepted by the masses.

There isn't much else to be expected from a sport still in its infant stage. While the MMA world rejected him, Silva kept his head down and continued to work hard.

Superheroes are never accepted initially. Their otherworldly abilities often stir emotions of fear and uncertainty among those around them, but eventually, people learn to accept and embrace them as one of their own.

Growing up, Silva was a big fan of comic books and superheroes.

It's normal for human beings to ponder a world and existence where anything is possible. This is typically why people are drawn to superheroes. Their abilities surpass that of a normal person, but yet, they maintain a sense of duty and responsibility to protect and help shape those around them.

Silva's favorite superhero has always been Spider-Man. In an interview with, he reminisces about his days as a kid watching the "Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends" cartoon.

"I told my mother, 'I am going to be Spider-Man when I grow up...' Spider-Man has always been my favorite since I was a kid because of his attitude. He would be fighting these powerful people, and took it seriously, but also laughed and joked at the same time. That's how I am. I take my sport seriously and I train very hard, but if you can't joke and laugh with your friends and teammates there's no point doing this."

It isn't unusual for kids to sit around watching cartoons and reading comics, but there was always something different about Silva. He wasn't as infatuated with the superpowers and fictitious nature of the comic world. As a child, he was able to relate the human qualities of a superhero to his everyday life, especially in his martial arts training.

Ironically, Silva and "Spider-Man" from Director Sam Raimi's 2002 film earned their nicknames the exact same way.

According to Silva, he was fighting on a small card in Brazil. The ring announcer approached him in the dressing room and asked him for a nickname. Silva was wearing a Spider-Man t-shirt, which became somewhat of a ritual to help keep him relaxed and confident before a fight.

After admitting he didn't have a nickname, Silva was introduced as "Brazil's Spider-Man," and he has gone by Anderson "The Spider" Silva ever since.

Superheroes are never accepted initially, but things began to turn around for Silva after defeating Franklin for the UFC title in astonishing fashion. It didn't take the MMA world long after that to finally realize Silva wasn't like other fighters.

He is a once in a lifetime talent like Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.

The most admirable quality in Silva lies in his traditional martial arts mindset. Sure, fans are enamored by the snakelike bobbing and weaving and spectacular knockouts, but these aren't the qualities that separate him from every fighter to ever put on a pair of four ounce gloves.

Silva doesn't seek to be better than those around him, but instead, all of his training and focus is aimed towards surpassing himself. This is why he often jokes about his clone being his dream opponent.

In MMA, Silva has always been an exceptional talent, but the true beauty of his otherworldly gift is a genuine humbleness. It took longtime teammate and friend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to convince him to stay on the path of a professional MMA fighter.

If it wasn't for Nogueira, Ed Soares, Silva's manager, believes Silva would still have his old job at McDonalds. True greatness is bestowed upon those who work for it, not ask for it.

At 37 years of age, Silva has created a legacy that could possibly go down as the greatest in MMA history. He has broken nearly every record in the UFC and paved the way for the next generation of young warriors.

Despite his illustrious career, the most important thing in Silva's life is his family. It is undetermined whether or not his sons will follow in his footsteps and make a career out of fighting, but Silva always jumps at every opportunity to give great fatherly advice.

In the UFC promotional video above, Silva shares his philosophy of perseverance and a thirst for knowledge to one of his three sons.

"I started training when I was 8 years old. When I was 8, I was already getting kicked in the face. Getting beat up by the big kids. I was 8 years old but I was tall. I was a trouble maker, I would tease the big kids. I would get beat up in training, and I would cry. They would say, 'He ain't coming back.' And I would always be there the next day. In their face: 'Do you want to beat me up? I want to see you try.' Then I would get beat again. Of course.

I wanted to mess around with the big kids...But while the bullies didn't want to learn, I wanted to learn. While the big kids were beating everyone without learning, I was learning. Then I became gnarlier than the big kids. You must have a dragon hidden inside of you. When you need, you let the dragon out."

As time passes, stars will come and go, but there will never be another Anderson Silva.

All of his profound accomplishments and endearing legacy will live on for generations to come. Many know his name, but few actually know the person.

All it takes is one look through the eyes of greatness to learn everything you need to know about "Brazil's Spider-Man."