Sports call - Israel Adesdanya is on a tear to UFC middleweight title glory but here's why fighting unranked former champion Anderson Silva is genius.
For those who have hopped aboard the 'Stylebender Express' since Israel Adesanya's rise to UFC fame you may be unfamiliar with who his next opponent, Anderson Silva, actually is.
Putting it simply, Silva is the most infamous UFC middleweight champion of all time that not even current champion Robert Whittaker has had the honour to face.
UFC boss Dana White confirmed to ESPN Adesanya will face Silva at UFC 234 in Melbourne as the co-main event to Whittaker's title defence against Kelvin Gastelum, but interest will well be in favour of the Auckland-based fighter against the Brazilian hero.
Although Adesanya (15-0) is constantly compared to UFC lightweight fighter Jon 'Bones' Jones it would be fair to say Silva (34-8) is more of an accurate reflection in fighting style, striking technique, build and of course bravado.
In perspective both fighters prefer to stalk their prey and stay standing. Adesanya with a two inch height and three inch reach advantage will meet a similar style in Silva who collectively only throws kicks and jabs with purpose.
Both fighters at any time can unleash unconventional strike deliveries: Silva with a trademark front leg side kick and Adesanya, with an endless tank, lifting knees to restrict any idea of a takedown.
While 29-year-old Adesanya says he has been waiting to showcase his ground game, it will be interesting to see if he will make Silva that guinea pig. The veteran has won three fights via submission his last coming in 2010 when he defeated Chael Sonnen via triangle choke.
In another similarity Anderson Silva's obsession with comic books, in particular, Spiderman is how he adopted the name 'The Spider' (as well as his long limbs) similar to Adesanya whose interest in Anime created his fight name 'The Last Stylebender'.
It's the 43-year-old southpaw's career that deserves the most mention though. Silva made his climb to the UFC in 2006 after a stint with the PRIDE promotion. On debut, much like Adesanya, Silva became an instant star knocking out Chris Leben (who was on a five fight winning streak at the time) in the very first round picking up a knockout of the night bonus.
Silva was immediately awarded with a middleweight title fight against Rich Franklin at UFC 77.
After Franklin had successfully defended the title twice, Silva ended his reign quickly with a first round knockout and again winning knockout of the night.
From that day on, October 20 2007, the champion not only put the middleweight division on the map but also on notice successfully defending his belt 10 times earning the longest title reign in UFC history.
That record has only recently been beaten by former UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson.
The twelve year UFC reputation may prompt a calmer approach from Adesanya in the build-up. To watch Silva assume his traditional spider pose opposite him in the octagon as Bruce Buffer announces their names will definitely be one for 'Izzy' to cherish.
Both Adesanya and Silva are coming off wins against 8th ranked MW Derek Brunson however the Brazilian has not stepped foot in the cage for what will be two years in February 2019 after a one-year suspension for consuming contaminated dietary supplements.
As the most successful UFC fighter for 2018, Adesanya is coming off four fights and as many wins and will be looking to accept the torch from Silva in a match-up that could absolutely set the middleweight division a light.
It's anticipated that the card down under will result in two successful Kiwi wins to make inroads to the long anticipated middleweight title fight on route to Spark Arena later in 2019.