Whenever fans, fighters, or media come up with their “Mount Rushmore of mixed martial arts,” the results are always pretty subjective to personal opinions and preferences. Anderson Silva, a man likely mentioned on many of those lists, is no different when coming up with his own ranking of the four most influential MMA fighters of all time.
Anderson Silva gives his Mount Rushmore of MMA
For context, Mount Rushmore is a national memorial located in the Black Hills Region of South Dakota. The faces of former US presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln were carved into the granite rock of the mountain there. Those men were influential figures in forming the American nation. It’s why Mount Rushmore of MMA lists can vary to include figured influential in forming the sport, to just the best fighters to ever compete in MMA.
In a recent conversation with GiveMeSport [h/t BloodyElbow], the former Ultimate Fighting Championship middleweight king, and absolute legend of the sport, was asked who he would place on his personal MMA Mount Rushmore. The 46-year-old first led with a couple of lightweight greats as his first four most important names in MMA history.
“Well, there’s lots of different fighters I respect, but if we’re talking about the best, I would say BJ Penn,” Silva said. “What the guy did, he’s amazing, what he did for the sport … Khabib [Nurmagomedov], Khabib is a beast, he’s so amazing. He changed, how you say, his wrestling, his pressure, how he fight, he changed the game.”
The UFC record setter’s next two choices went in a different direction and had a very nationalistic lean as a native of Brazil. One of them is a key pioneer of the sport. The other, a heavyweight great that had a direct influence on Silva’s own life and career.
“I would also say Royce Gracie. he started everything,” said Silva. “Without him, there would be nothing. None of this, no UFC, nothing … My best friend ‘Minotauro’ [Antonio Nogueira] as well. He’s my master. He gave me my black belt in jiu-jitsu.”
All four of those men are current of future UFC Hall-of-Famers and were certainly influential on MMA in various ways.
It’s no surprise that the always humble Silva left his own name off the list, however, not mentioning the likes of Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, or Demetrious Johnson surely will surprise many. But, as mentioned before, these lists are as subjective as it gets.
Silva last competed in the UFC in October 2020 and his legendary run in the promotion ended on a three-fight losing streak. However, he has shifted his combat sports career to boxing. Winning his professional debut against former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. in June. He is not rumored for a bout with popular YouTube-sensation turned boxer Logan Paul.
Who is on your Mount Rushmore of MMA?