Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011 | 2:45 a.m.
The kick that no one saw coming was a long time in the making.
Anderson Silva defended his middleweight championship belt Saturday at UFC 126 when he knocked out Vitor Belfort at 3:25 of the first round after landing a ghastly left leg kick to the chin. It was a move that Silva said he thought might be available against Belfort.
“Vitor is a guy with very quick hands,” Silva said through a translator. “He has good boxing skills and I practiced this kick a lot. It just happened to work out.”
Silva (28-4) won his eighth straight title defense, which broke his own record. He’s also a perfect 12-0 in the UFC. Only one other fighter in the world appears on the same level as Silva — UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre (21-2).
And it’s looking more likely that St. Pierre will be Silva’s next opponent. According to UFC President Dana White, the superfight between the two pound-for-pound kings will happen if St. Pierre defends his belt at UFC 129 in April against Jake Shields.
“Georges St. Pierre has made it clear that if he beats Jake, he’ll take that fight,” White said. “I think Anderson is ready to go, too.”
Silva admitted as much in his post-fight press conference at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
“It’s going to be one of those types of fights,” Silva said. “It’s going to be a fun fight.”
Although that may sound vague, any comment from Silva regarding a future opponent is a victory in itself. Silva notoriously will not speak about any other fighters or potential matchups.
Asked earlier this week on his thoughts of a bout with St. Pierre, Silva responded that it wouldn’t be as entertaining as a fight “against my clone.”
After Saturday, Belfort (19-9) may agree. The beginning of the fight was like waiting for a firecracker that didn’t light. The only contact in the first two minutes was a small leg kick landed by Belfort.
Then Belfort sprang to action with a couple of punches that landed squarely on Silva’s face. Silva laughed them off.
“This guy sitting next to me has hit me a lot more,” Silva said in the press conference, pointing to current UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.
Silva saw a slight opening and exploited it moments later with the high kick. It floored Belfort and Silva followed with a couple of punches before the referee stepped in to call the fight.
“Anderson Silva is a very good fighter,” Belfort said. “I got caught up. I was waiting and doing my thing. My punches weren’t landing, but he caught me.”
Silva slivered up the cage as a celebration in a manner that did his nickname, the Spider, justice. He eventually checked on Belfort and said something to him, possibly signaling the end of their feud that reached new heights during the lead up to the bout this week.
Despite ransacking the entire 185-pound division, Silva said he had no desire to move up to light heavyweight and fight for a new title.
“I want to maintain my current position and ready for the next combat,” Silva said.
That’s why the matchup with St. Pierre makes sense now. St. Pierre said he would forfeit his welterweight championship and move up to middleweight permanently if he defeats Shields, according to White.
White has long held reservations about the fight, citing Silva’s notable size advantage as unfair to St. Pierre. But both men’s continued supremacy has changed White’s mind.
“It’s a fight we have to try to do,” he said.
That doesn’t mean White is backing off his assertion that Silva would have an edge against St. Pierre — definitely not after what he did to Belfort.
“I think he’s the best fighter in the world,” White said. “And when he does what he’s capable of doing, you have nights like you had tonight. I’ve only seen that in video games.”