In MMA, make one mistake and it’s all over.

Leave too much space attempting a choke and your opponent escapes. Throw a right hook and drop your hands, you leave your chin open and you’re vulnerable to getting blasted. All it takes is one little mistake.

That’s what happened at UFC 117 when Chael Sonnen was miraculously submitted by middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva. Sonnen left his arm out and let Silva control it, leading to Silva wrapping his legs around Sonnen and securing the come-from-behind hail-mary triangle armbar.

Silva was beaten and battered for five rounds in that fight, and it seemed that the Oakland crowd was witnessing the unthinkable. A man who had beaten everybody put in front of him by the UFC was about to be beaten by this challenger.

Silva was just minutes away from being dethroned, the very minutes that would define his legacy. He pulled off the win, but now many questioned if he really was the best ever and if he had lost something along the way.

By athletic standards, Silva is old and at the age of retirement from professional sports. Some chalk up that UFC 117 beating he took as a sign of his impending demise to old age. Some point out that Silva just has a weakness to wrestlers. Then you have some who point out that Sonnen might just be the better fighter.

Regardless of what happens in this epic duel between two warriors—two true warriors—this is the biggest fight in not only UFC history, but MMA history.

Silva could very well lose this Saturday when he rematches Sonnen at UFC 148. With a loss, could we finally see the end of Silva in the UFC and MMA as a whole?

It is hard to imagine a world where both Fedor Emelianenko and Silva are both retired. They are considered the consensus No. 1 and No. 2 fighters MMA has ever seen.

We could very well see that, however, if Silva loses to Sonnen. Outside of an immediate rubber match with the gangster from West Linn, Ore., I can’t see Silva sticking around fighting his way back to the title. Although I think for legacy purposes, Silva should come back and try to earn that rubber match with Sonnen.

Silva’s situation is very different than Emelianenko’s retirement scenario, though. Emelianenko had fought the best and lost; Silva has been fighting the best and decimating his opponents.

If Silva has come to terms with hanging up his gloves for good, then he should retire. Though another option could be a move up to light heavyweight to see what he can do against larger opponents.

Silva doesn’t need the money a potential third match would make or even the money from the matches of him fighting his way back to the title fight. He doesn’t need more publicity to earn him fame as he is already popular in his home country of Brazil.  Beyond the chance to avenge such a loss to Sonnen, or challenge himself at a new weight class, there really would not be much reason to continue fighting.

Yet, even with a loss, I wholeheartedly believe that Silva can still hang with the best at middleweight and even light heavyweight.

Photo: Anderson Silva (Marcelo Alonso/Sherdog)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.