UFC has produced a plethora of the greatest fighters of all time. 

The likes of Chuck Liddell, Frank Mir, Randy Couture, George St. Pierre among others have entertained millions and have held the world championship in their weight class. 

However ahead of the chasing pack is the Brazilian martial art expert Anderson Silva, who held the UFC middleweight title for over seven years.

Here's an extensive look at the man who has been named by UFC president Dana White as the greatest of all time.

Silva began his career initially as a welterweight and gained two wins in his first two professional fights in 1997. 

He joined the Pride organisation in 2002 and had a 3-2 win loss record from five fights with the Japanese company. 

He also fought in many other martial art organisations including Cage Rage before joining the Ultimate Fighting Championship in 2006.

The same year, Silva earned his Brazilian jiujitsu black belt and opened his UFC winning account courtesy of a win against Chris Leben in a middleweight title eliminator. 

The match lasted just 49 seconds before Silva managed to knock out Leben with a knee strike. 

Four months later in October, in just his second fight in the company. The Spider became the UFC middleweight champion thanks to a TKO victory over Rich Franklin. 

It was voted as knockout of the night and with it, Silva proved what potential he had which would eventually catapult him to the pinnacle of mixed martial arts.

Silva's first title defence was against fellow middleweight fighter Nate Marquardt at UFC 73. 

The champion secured another TKO victory, 10 seconds before the end of round 1 and another knockout of the night followed. 

The Spider defended the title again in a rematch with Rich Franklin. Silva remained champion in his second title defence and defeated his opponent the same way in which he did a year before with yet another TKO victory.

The next time Silva stepped into the octagon it was not only to defend the UFC middleweight title but also the opportunity to win the Pride welterweight title held by Dan Henderson. 

Many experts felt Henderson held the advantage over Silva due to his greco roman wrestling background. 

However much like the matches Silva had participated in since he began his UFC career, he walked out of UFC 82 victorious forcing Henderson to submit with a rear naked choke in the second round. 

Three months later, Silva showed his prowess by defeating James Irvin in just over a minute in a light heavyweight bout with a KO victory. 

Silva's title wasn't on the line due to the fight being a weight class above, but the Spider made sure fans realised he could perform at the highest level no matter what weight class he participated in.

Silva remained undefeated in the UFC with wins over Patrick Cote and Thales Leites at UFC 90 and 97, in the process defending his middleweight title on both occasions despite being criticised for his tactics in the two bouts. 

He once again fought at light heavyweight this time against former champion Forrest Griffin. Silva earned both knockout of the night and fight out the night honours for his win over Griffin when he downed the light heavyweight fighter in the first round.

The middleweight champion took on Demian Maia at UFC 112 in Dubai with the title on the line. 

The match was arguably the most controversial match which Silva took part in to date. 

Silva dominated the first two rounds of the fight and looked to secure victory with ease. However his pace changed in the next three rounds which inadvertently let Maia back into the fight. Silva continued to mock his opponent and was reprimanded for his actions. 

The Spider retained his title by unanimous decision but was booed by the fans and received wide criticism following the manner of his victory. 

Despite this, Silva broke the record with six title defences since becoming the champion. He apologised to the crowd in attendance that night after UFC president Dana White stated it was the most embarrassed he had ever felt since becoming a part of the company.

Silva faced Chael Sonnen in August 2010 but started off on the back foot with his opponent leading the role of aggressor in the early going. 

Silva managed to just about defend his title courtesy of a triangle armbar he applied on Sonnen, forcing the challenger to submit. 

It was arguably Silva's toughest fight in the UFC at that point. The champion suffered a cracked rib before the fight and it got worse over time, leaving The Spider on the sidelines until 2011. 

He returned at UFC 126 and extended his run to eight title defences following a win over Vitor Belfort by knockout. It was the challenger's first defeat in 28 career fights.

Silva faced Sonnen for the second time in as many years in 2012 once again for the UFC middleweight title. 

The champion lost the first round to his opponent but managed to respond win by TKO in the second round and earning the second victory of his career over Sonnen. 

Silva faced Stephan Bonnar in a light heavyweight bout at UFC 153 which has held in Silva's homeland of Brazil. 

The Spider extended his record by his 16th consecutive match with yet another TKO victory in the first round.

However the champion's brave title run ended at UFC 162 when he faced Chris Weidman for the middleweight title. 

For the first time in his entire mixed martial arts career, Silva has knocked out by his opponent and relinquished the title after seven years as champion. A rematch between Silva and Weidman has been scheduled for December, 2013.

Silva is a black belt in Judo, Brazilian jiujitsu and Taekwondo. His style has been considered as the best in the world on numerous occasions. 

He defended the UFC middleweight title a record ten times, defeating the best the division had to offer. 

He surpassed virtually record which was held in the company before his arrival and is considered by experts, fans, critics and fellow fighters as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time.

Do you think Anderson Silva is the greatest UFC fighter of all time? Have your say below.

 

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Anderson Silva