At the start of the year, we published a piece differentiating between the terms GOAT and BOAT. As the GOAT, an athlete was able to achieve sustained greatness through their accolades, records, championships, etc. But what’s this talk about a BOAT?
The BOAT is the Best of All Time. Unlike the GOAT, you aren’t bound by the laws of longevity. There’s no need to wait for a decade or more to begin a conversation that you can plainly see is going to happen anyway. Nope, you can strictly go by talent and the likelihood to win any given contest, no matter the circumstances.
This week in BOAT talk, Chael Sonnen tackles the debate of Anderson Silva vs. Israel Adesanya for middleweight supremacy.
Last week, Daniel Cormier gave his take on just who is the middleweight GOAT. Seeing as how the majority of people define a “GOAT” to be the man who has the most accomplishments in a given field, Cormier considered it an insult to rank anyone over Anderson Silva, who has the most successful title defenses in UFC middleweight history. Below, you can find Mr. Cormier’s argument.
“No. Dude, Anderson Silva existed. Anderson Silva existed. Like, I don’t get this recency bias that fans have,” Cormier said during a recent episode of DC&RC. “Honestly RC, I think the word ‘GOAT’ gets thrown around way too easy in fight sports. The only person that doesn’t get passed is Muhammad Ali and there have been some really impressive fighters, but people recognize what Muhammad Ali was. Anderson Silva was to MMA what Muhammad Ali was to boxing. No, [Israel Adesanya] has some work to do to catch Anderson.” (h/t SportsKeeda)
Chael Sonnen Takes Cormier To Task For MW GOAT Take
Chael Sonnen feels as strong about this debate as Cormier, only he is taking the opposite side. Both Sonnen and Cormier have competed against Anderson Silva before. Sonnen fell short twice while Cormier defeated Silva at UFC 200. Sonnen believes that victory is the most logical explanation for DC placing Silva over Adesanya despite the fact that he feels “The Last Style Bender” squashed The Spider’s place as MW GOAT.
“(Cormier) said that other people come up to him all the time and ask him about Adesanya. And then they, in their question about Adesanya, say to him, ‘Is he the greatest of all time?’ Daniel pushed back and said, ‘Time out. Recency bias aside, Anderson Silva existed. Anderson Silva is the greatest of all time.’ He then went on to talk about (how) we always do that. We always pass up somebody with somebody new, and the only sports figure in history that that hasn’t happened to is Muhammad Ali.’ What in the BLEEP is Daniel Cormier talking about?!” Sonnen said on his YouTube channel.
“There is nothing on that that is accurate. There is no way that Daniel believes it, except Daniel fought Anderson Silva and would like to pad his own résumé so he wants to have beaten the greatest of all time (is) all I can think. Or, he didn’t have enough time to think about the question. There is zero truth to it.”
Sonnen would also use Muhammad Ali as an example of erroneous usage of the “GOAT” label. Sonnen argued that if we were to poll trainers and boxers of 2022 who they watched film on to improve their technique and skillset, it wouldn’t be Muhammad Ali.
Sonnen would go on to shoot down common arguments found in GOAT debates where the losing fighter is granted an “out-of-prime” exception.
“Look, if we are at least down to Adesanya and Anderson, we’ve done a good and fair job as a community. Because those are the two. I will tell you this: they fought. And it was a good fight. Adesanya won two rounds to one. Everybody saw it the same as the judges. Adesanya won 1 and 3; Anderson won number 2. It was a valiant effort by Anderson. It was closer than any of us thought that it was gonna be. It was a great fight. But that still answers the question, if you’re being fair. If you want to be unfair and your side doesn’t win, you (say), ‘Well, he wasn’t in his prime.’ Shut up with all that. Just stop. Stop.”
One person who is often granted an out-of-prime exemption is heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko. Those who argue he is the heavyweight or overall MMA GOAT dismiss losses to names like Dan Henderson, Fabricio Werdum, and Antonio Silva because Fedor (who was in his early-mid 30s at the time of those losses) was out of his prime. Sonnen appears to believe that Anderson Silva is being granted this same exemption when it comes to his loss to Israel Adesanya at UFC 234.
There is just one problem with Sonnen’s take. For the most part, the vast majority of people do not define GOAT the way he seems to. It is clear that what Sonnen is arguing is that Israel Adesanya is the BOAT. He is arguing that Adesanya is a better, not more accomplished, fighter than Silva. He believes that Israel Adesanya is more likely to win any given fight, and that Adesanya further proved his superiority by defeating Silva head-to-head, thus closing the door on any credible debate on the matter.
If Daniel Cormier and Chael Sonnen had a face-to-face debate on this issue, I can assure you that they would talk in circles. The reason being that they are debating two different things. Daniel Cormier is having a GOAT debate while Chael Sonnen is having a BOAT debate.
Folks, there are over 500,000 words in the English language. That number changes every year, and each year brings new additions. It wasn’t too long ago that “GOAT” was added to the English and sports lexicon. When there are so many words in just one language, this can only be possible when there are several words that have very similar meanings but with the slightest of alterations.
It is undebatable that “BOAT” is one of those words; that it has a clear difference in meaning than GOAT; and most importantly, that we need to finally add it to the English and sports lexicon.
You can view Chael Sonnen’s full BOAT take below.