You're outlook, observation, opinion, or dare I say analysis is askewed. Do me a favour, post this up on Sherdog and see what kind of a response you get.
Those were the best challengers at the given time frame. He risked his legacy on more than one occasion.
It's unfortunate there are "fans" of the sport who have that kind of thought process to trivialize what the GOAT has done.
To me it looks like this is coming from the lens of someone who just started watching this the past several years with limited training. If you've been watching since the 90's or even early 2000s and train to a degree then I would think you have a better understanding of the mechanics that goes behind each of those wins. For every one of those comments I can offer a rebuttal. Lets start with Maia. It's terrible because you wanted a finish. What you didn't see was that Anderson threw a flying knee on a moving target amongst a plethora of high flying maneuvers the first two/three rounds. Afterwards he completely toyed with Maia to prove a point. First don't disrespect me, second to the UFC...stop giving me BJJ fighters, third I can do whatever I want inside the Octagon treating it like a sparring match. That's mastery there although some would consider it polarizing.
You're right Irvin does get punched in the face a lot, but how many fights has he had where he gets knocked out in one strike. He's a very durable and powerful fighter with no name recognition. Zero upside for Anderson. It was a favour to counter program their competition at the time.
Rich Franklin was 22-1 only losing to Lyoto when he defended against Anderson.
Look at Vitor's fights the past several years and compare it to the fight he had against Anderson.
Look at Lyoto vs Hendo then look at Hendo vs Anderson.
Against Cote his movement won the fight. To the commoner you only catch 50% at best of what's going on.
The UFC desperately wanted to find someone who could challenge em. Look at the list carefully and you'll see very credible fighters with varying martial arts expertise; wrestling, BJJ black belts, boxing, Muay Thai, who posed the biggest challenge at the time.
I can keep on going.
Marcus Aurelius: Tell me again, Maximus, why are we here?
Maximus: For the glory of the Empire, sire.
Baked, not fried... the healthy choice.