As Anderson Silva continues to extend his historic run as UFC middleweight champion, increasingly there are fewer and fewer people arguing that he is not the greatest MMA fighter of all time.  Since Fedor Emelianenko went  1-3 during his run with Strikeforce, the number of fans saying the legendary heavyweight may be the G.O.A.T. was significantly reduced.

Well, during the UFC 162 media call this week, the 38 year-old superstar was asked who he believes is the greatest fighter in MMA history, and Silva relayed his contention that it’s BJ Penn. It’s similar to the declaration that Silva made in 2009, but that was when Penn was ruling the UFC lightweight division, and the only man who had defeated him since 2006 was welterweight champ Georges St. Pierre. Since then, Penn has lost to Frankie Edgar twice, Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald.

While the pick may surprise some people, there’s no question that Penn will go down as one of the greatest fighters of all time, since he did win championship belts at both lightweight and welterweight. Silva could have just said “me”, but how would that have been received?

Silva also mentioned Randy Couture, Chuck Liddell and Royce Gracie as other fighters who are in the mix, after Penn. Couture is also a fighter who won championships in two different UFC divisions, so no surprises there, and Liddell was one of the sport’s most feared fighters for quite some time. Gracie, of course, is also an obvious choice.

In terms of Penn, it’s still unknown what’s next for the 34 year-old “Prodigy”, who it recently was reported is planning a return at lightweight.