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Silva now officially one for the ages

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Imagine if Anderson Silva had lost to Yushin Okami at UFC 134 on Saturday.

At this point, that's the closest the concept comes to fruition.

By beating Okami, Silva "avenges" a loss that was never really all that believable to begin with. The reason Okami was in a title fight wasn't because he beat Silva in 2006, it was only because he had defeated a host of solid opponents to force the issue.

It's been a long, long time (nearly seven years) since the now-famous Ryo Chonan flying scissor heel-hook made Silva tap -- his last legitimate loss. Think Silva wouldn't avenge that one, too, if given the chance? Seven years is an eternity in MMA. Particularly given the level of competition he's faced.

And at this point, if it hasn't sunk in that a Silva-headlined event is a special event, then it will never happen.

"I've been saying this for a long time -- this guy's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world," Dana White said at the postfight news conference. "You're out of your mind if you don't think this guy's the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world."

But this Silva serving was special.

There's a cliché in the fight game that every bout that comes up is the most important in a fighter's career. Next is always biggest. In this case, though, Silva's was really that. There was more riding on this fight than any other he's been involved in.

Not only was Silva fighting in his native country in front of his own people, but it's here and now that he realistically transcended into the country's biggest star in moving past Vitor Belfort -- a fighter he conquered at UFC 126 in February. Believe it or not, the talk this week was that Silva -- with 14 wins in a row that he'd earned through a variety of ways -- was still in the process of winning over Brazil.

Tonight, that part of it becomes his victory as well. Couple that with the fact that he just signed major league endorsement deals with Burger King, Nike and his beloved Corinthians, and you get that a lot more was in play than when he was simply submitting fighters like Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen.

"It was awesome to be able to fight here in Brazil and to have so many amazing MMA fighters on the same card that I was on," Silva humbly said afterward. "And to [also] have my special friend, Pedro Rizzo, in my corner. So I was very, very thankful, and that was very special for me."

Motivation was at a premium tonight, and he came through. Just like he always does. When asked at the UFC 134 postfight news conference who he'd like to see next, he answered in two words.

"My clone," he said.

That's where a man gets to when he's beaten just about everyone imaginable.

Chuck Mindenhall covers MMA for ESPN.com and Rumor Central. He can be followed on Twitter at @ChuckMindenhall.