NEW YORK: “The Spider’s” career still has legs. Anderson Silva had one more big win left in the MMA octagon, an effective performance to beat Derek Brunson in the co-main event of UFC 208 on Saturday night.
Silva had the Brooklyn crowd clearly on his side, and his familiar dose of swagger and showmanship were on full display at the Barclays Center in a 29-28, 29-28, 30-27 victory.
Silva crouched in his yellow trunks, the crowd going wild for “The Spider,” all hoping he could recreate the greatness of his prime. He landed a spin kick to the body in the first round that rattled Brunson but otherwise never came close to dominating the middleweight bout.
Silva dropped his longtime entrance song, DMX’s “Ain’t No Sunshine,” for an original tune called “Doom” by his teenage son Kalyl. “I’m the best ever,” repeated one of the lyrics.
The 41-year-old Silva is certainly on the short list of all-time great MMA fighters. Holly Holm (10-2) was set to fight for her slice of UFC history against Germaine de Randamie (6-3) in the main event. Holm, the first fighter to defeat Ronda Rousey, could become the first two-division women’s champion with a victory.
Silva (34-8) was hit with emotion and appeared to choke back tears as he held a hand to his face. Chris Weidman, who ended Silva’s dominant run in 2013, sat in the front row and nodded in approval as the sellout crowd chanted “Silva! Silva! Silva!”
“I know I’m too old to fight,” Silva said. Silva said he climbs inside the cage these days for love the sport and for his family and friends. Talk of future shots have faded into the background, and this victory over Brunson (16-5) certainly did nothing to prove he’s up next for another crack at the belt.
“Everyone is telling me that I won. I feel terrible,” Brunson said. “I took this fight on short notice and, to have this happen, is just crazy to me. I take this seriously. This is my job. I put everything into this and I got robbed.”
Silva won the middleweight title in 2006 in his second UFC fight and went on slap a choke hold on the belt for nearly seven years. He had 10 straight title defenses before he lost to Weidman. Silva’s only win since 2012 was overturned with a doping suspension and he was stopped on short notice by Daniel Cormier in his last bout at UFC 200 in July.
He got the victory he needed in New York.
“For a long time, it was my dream to fight in New York,” he said. UFC’s second trip to the Big Apple in three months lacked the top-to-bottom star power of the debut show in November but fans were just as enthusiastic and filled the place well before the PPV started.
UFC fighter Islam Makhachev stood inside the cage at a packed Barclays Center and asked for the big Money fight.
“Hey, Dana! Give me Mayweather,” Makhachev said. The crowd got a kick out that challenge for UFC President Dana White to make a never-going-to-happen fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. early in the card.
Dustin Poirier won a brutal, bloody bout in the PPV opener against Jim Miller that left both fighters broken. Poirier tagged Miller with straight shots that cut him open above his eyes and covered his face in blood.
Poirier appeared to sustain a serious injury to his right ankle. Poirier, a majority decision winner in the lightweight bout, was down on the canvas for a bit after the bout ended and needed help from this corner to sit on a stool. He was helped back on his brittle leg to the locker room and a stretcher soon followed him down the corridor. UFC said Poirier was taken to a hospital.
“I didn’t hear anything snap,” Poirier said. “It felt wobbly the last couple of rounds.”
Glover Teixeira defeated Jared Cannonier by unanimous decision in dull fight that brought out the New York boo birds. Jacare Souza choked out Tim Boetsch at 3:41 of the first round and moved to 7-1 in UFC. – AP