UFC President Dana White thinks so.
During the post-fight press conference for UFC 153 earlier this month, the "baldfather insinuated that Silva is bigger than Mike Tyson was and told reporters the MMA fighter dubbed 'Spider' is MMA's "Michael Jordan."
"Nobody can do what this guy (Anderson Silva) can f**king do. He's the greatest of all time. And I think he's the greatest in any combat sport."
UFC's president added, "I'm a huge Mike Tyson fan, and in Tyson's heyday when he was executing people, and you were just wondering how long it was going to be before he knocked someone out -- he had that power and mean-ness that people were afraid of. Anderson Silva just does amazing things that nobody else can do...."
"It's like [Michael] Jordan -- even the games he played that didn't mean a lot -- he still did a lot of great sh*t.
That's quite a bold statement. Can such a comparison even be analyzed?
UFC 153 was headlined on October 13th by Anderson Silva in his homeland of Brazil where he dominated UFC veteran Stephan Bonnar. Silva won via a TKO in the opening round thanks to a knee to the solar plexus.
The win extended Silva's unbeaten streak to 15-0 in UFC.
And although the bout was contested at light heavyweight, Stephan Bonnar's division, the middleweight champion was a massive favorite and the 'Spider' didnt disappoint.
But, back to the comparison...
Is Anderson Silva greater than the legendary 'Iron' Mike Tyson?
While it's not easy to compare athletes of different sports, lets analyze both fighters.
Mike Tyson was long considered one of the greatest heavyweights to ever enter the ring. He was a ferocious beast in the ring who, in his prime, possessed freakish speed, mind-numbing power and excellent overall technique.
A knockout artist whose fights were often measured in seconds, Mike's defensive prowess was extremely underrated as the short but fierce and intimidating fighter was deceptively hard to hit cleanly.
Pictured: A 20 year old Tyson topples Trevor Berbick to win his first world title
Mike was also the youngest heavyweight champion ever and many of his opponents were seemingly scared to death before the bell for the opening round sounded.
- Record: 50-6-2
- KO's: 44
- 2x World Champion/ 5 world titles
- Title Defenses: 9
- 21 first round knockouts
Anderson Silva is widely known as the best fighter in mixed martial arts and arguably the greatest of all time in his sport. He's bruised and bewildered his opponents with his striking ability, head movement, timing, and superior technique.
The Brazilian is a fighter who truly fits the definition of mixed martial artist. Besides being good at Muay Thai, Silva has black belts in judo, taekwondo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He also holds a yellow rope in the Brazilian martial art Capoeira.
Pictured: Anderson Silva in action
And at age 37, Silva is the oldest current UFC champion and third oldest middleweight behind Rich Franklin and Cung Le.
- Record: 33-4 (15-0 in the UFC)
- KO's: 20
- Submissions: 6
- 3x Champion
- Title Defenses: 12 (10 consecutive in UFC)
So back to the question, Is Silva greater then Mike Tyson?
After the side-by-side, it's evident that Mike Tyson and Anderson Silva are two of combat sports greatest athletes who have made and monumental accomplishments and serve as 'eye-candy' to their respective sports.
On paper, they are certainly comparable but their aura and mystique is a different story.
Mike Tyson is one of the greatest heavyweights in the history of boxing and although Anderson Silva is arguably the greatest MMA fighter of all-time, his legacy won't surpass Iron Mike's. That stated, Silva is freakishly talented and even those who dont follow MMA should appreciate his amazing skills and instincts and everything he brings to the table.
But Mike Tyson has several attributes in his favor that make him perhaps the biggest combats sports icon of his era:
1: Tyson is American and Speaks English
While there are successful non-Americans who are icons in boxing such as Manny Pacquiao, this is important in this specific argument. Its politically-incorrect and sad but true... Athletes get a boost in the international public mainstream if they are American and/or speak English. Dont believe it? Ask Sergio Martinez. (Just make sure you're proficient in espanol)
Silva is Brazilian and barely even speaks any English. Similar to the Klitschkos in Ukraine and Germany, Silva is a literal rock star in Brazil. However, there's still a connection barrier with fans from English-speaking nations. Simply put, the sad reality is if Silva and the Klitschkos were American, they'd be bigger than they are in the public consciousness.
2: Tyson was a Heavyweight
Whether you like it or not, SIZE matters. The heavyweight division was and still is the glamour division in both combat sports, boxing and MMA. A combat sports' ultimate fighter is its heavyweight champion because, unlike a smaller pound-for-pound king, the heavyweight champion is symbolic of a sport's true baddest man because he can beat anyone in any division.
Even in MMA, a flawed Brock Lesner was PPV king. Why? Aside from his WWE following, Brock is a giant! A heavyweight. He had that "heavyweight mystique."
Its difficult compare a dominant heavyweight to a dominant fighter in a lower weight class because the heavyweight will always have an edge with regards to the overall intimidation factor and the aura and mystique that accompanies being the best fighter in the heaviest weight division.
3: Tyson's PPV Numbers
While Anderson SIlva's events are among the highest sold in MMA, only one has eclipsed a million PPVs. Tyson, on the other hand, has sold more PPV then any athlete in combat sports history, second only to Oscar De La Hoya. Had Iron Mike not been incarcerated for 4 years smack in the middle of his career, he would have undoubtedly been No.1.
So while Anderson Silva is the greatest MMA fighter of all-time, his legacy will never reach that of Mike Tyson's. Dana White is a great businessmen and huge boxing fan himself, surely he knows he is exaggerating a bit here.
It was a great try, but there are not many athletes in combat sports whose aura and mystique will match that of Mike Tyson.
Dana said it best, "Tyson's heyday when he was executing people, and you were just wondering how long it was going to be before he knocked someone out -- he had that power and mean-ness that people were afraid of."
Anderson is great but doesn't possess the level of intimidation and invincibilty of a prime Mike Tyson.
Anderson Silva portion of main image courtesy of Sherdog