The list of fighters that the legendary Anderson Silva met during his long and rich career is full of famous names. There are a lot of former champions and icons, but also faces, such as Israel Adesanya, who still play major roles in various arenas around the world.
But which of them was the most difficult challenge for the 46-year-old 'Spider' today? In a conversation with the GIVEMESPORT portal, Silva, to the surprise of many, especially mentioned the forgotten Japanese icon Hayata Sakurai.
"I really had a lot of solid opponents, but the toughest one was Hayato Sakurai. I fought him in Japan under the auspices of the Shooto promotion. He was a tough, tough, tough, tough opponent," Silva reveals. The duel he talks about took place in August 2001.
Anderson entered the match 6-1, and with a victory after a full three rounds from the Japanese nicknamed ‘Mach’ he took the Shooto title in the middleweight division. It was Sakurai's first defeat in his professional career, and by the time he met Silva he was at an impressive 18-0-2.
And real fans will remember that at that time Sakurai was one of the best fighters and hardly anyone could match him. Opponents were just changing, and Sakurai was winning and waiting for the next opponent.
Presenting his country
He looked unstoppable and almost most of the fighters entered the match without any confidence aware of how good Sakurai was.
There was a lot of talk about him at the time, and most were waiting for his defeat. Anderson is the one who succeeded in what seemed "impossible" Anderson felt a great honor to perform for his country, and even greater satisfaction arose when he managed to achieve such success under the flag of his country, which at that time was too proud of him, but even today Anderson has great respect in his native country.
"He was a beast at the time. I think he beat six or seven Brazilians. He would knock out anyone he fought. It was a special match for me. The first time I fought for my country and for the first time I won some title. This is really a special moment in my career, "recalled the once best MMA fighter in the world.
Let's also mention that Anderson is currently preparing for the boxing match he will play on June 19 against Julius Cesar Chavez Jr.