The most spectacular middleweight in UFC history returns to action in Melbourne this weekend looking to turn back the clock and make an unlikely return to the top.
Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva is considered to be one of the greatest champions in UFC history.
His six-year, 16-fight unbeaten run from his UFC debut until the summer of 2013 saw Silva established as the UFC middleweight champion and the pound-for-pound number-one fighter on the planet.
Then it all started to go wrong…
Two devastating losses to Chris Weidman saw him lose his title in their first fight, then suffer a horrific broken leg in the second.
The injury was so graphic, and so bad, that it led many to wonder if we’d ever see Silva in the octagon again.
But after a year out, he returned against Nick Diaz and claimed a unanimous decision victory. But, that win was scrubbed out when Silva tested positive for PEDs.
He looked back to his best against Michael Bisping, but an inspired performance from the Brit sent Silva to another defeat. And then Silva stepped in to help save the UFC 200 card when he faced Daniel Cormier.
Unfortunately for ‘The Spider’, he was rewarded with a one-sided beating at the hands of ‘DC’.
Now he’s back for the belt again
A look at Silva’s recent career record shows a fighter in decline, but don’t tell him that. He’s not only coming back to prove he’s still got it.
He’s coming for his old title once again and he’s enlisted the help of the kickboxing star who knocked out Adesanya, Silva’s fellow countryman Alex Pereira.
In the course of negotiating his fight with Adesanya this weekend, Silva persuaded the UFC bosses to agree to give him a shot at the UFC middleweight title if he wins on Saturday night.
For a man who hasn’t fought since February 2017, and a man who has won just once since 2012, that’s some pretty fine negotiating. But, it shows just how much people still rate and respect Silva.
And with Adesanya also on the verge of a title shot, the fight has become a world title eliminator between the two most spectacular strikers in the UFC
Will he win on Saturday night?
Speaking honestly, the likelihood is Silva will get beaten on Saturday night. He’s facing a younger, faster, sharper, more active fighter who has all the tools to become a world champion.
That, along with his dip in form and a lengthy layoff, has had a clear influence on the pre-fight odds, with Silva a 4/1 underdog heading into the contest. Odds like those alongside his name would have been unthinkable earlier in his career, but this is where we’re at right now.
He’s 43, he’s been knocked out decisively, he’s won just once since 2012 and he’s facing an undefeated phenom. There’s no doubt about it, the deck is stacked against ‘The Spider’ this weekend.
But, the sight and sound of Silva’s iconic walkout to DMX’s ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ will bring the goosebumps back to longtime followers of the sport. And the anticipation of seeing Silva back in the octagon will bring a level of excitement and anticipation that we rarely experience in the sport these days.
There are good fighters and there are great fighters. But you can count on the fingers of one hand the fighters who captivate the attention, no matter who they’re fighting, and no matter what their recent form.
Anderson Silva is one of those fighters.
Win or lose, his return will be one of the highlights of UFC 234 this weekend.