UFC Middlewieght Champion, Anderson Silva is considered by most to be the best pound-for-pound mixed martial artist in the world. This weekend at UFC 134 in Rio, he defends his UFC title against Yushin Okami. Silva is best known for his unorthodox but still incredibly accurate and powerful striking, with highlight reel knockouts of former champions, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin, and Forrest Griffin, to name a few.
Before Silva competed in the UFC, he fought in a smaller organization called Cage Rage. One of his opponents during that period, Tony Frykland, had the misfortune of fighting him shortly after he saw Midnight Madness 2003 selection, Ong-Bak for the first time. The UFC champion tells the story of how Tony Jaa inspired him for that fight:
Not long before my Cage Rage fight with Tony Frykland, I saw the movie Ong Bak (sic). Tony Jaa, the martial arts hero in the movie is a master at Muay Boran, an art I have always been interested in. There was one move in particular he did that blew me away. Instead of attacking with a side elbow or an over-the-top elbow, both of which are common in Muay Thai, Jaa stepped toward one of the villains and threw a lead reverse back elbow. I was so enamored with the move I went to my trainers and told them that I was going to use the strike in my next fight to knock out my opponent. Immediately they shut the idea down. 'That won’t work,' they said. 'Just forget about that elbow.' I wasn’t convinced but every time I tried to practice the move during training, the could come run over and tell me to focus on techniques that would actually work.
I still wasn’t convinced, so one night I went home and asked my wife to stand on the couch and hold out her hand. I executed a lead reverse back elbow into her palm, and she told me what I already knew — it was a very painful strike. To get in the practice I needed, I had her stand on the couch every evening after my official training — this time holding a pillow — and I would do one hundred reverse back elbows. By the time the Frykland fight came around, I felt very confident. Unfortunately, backstage I couldn’t sneak off with my wife to warm up on a pillow, so I had one of my training partners hold out a mitt so I could squeeze in a few more lead reverse back elbows. Again my trainers told me to forget that move. I figured I had no other choice but to prove them wrong, so two minutes into my fight with Frykland, I stepped toward him, threw a lead reverse back elbow at his chin, and knocked him out.
And if you don't know Ong-Bak...