43-year-old former longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will make his return to the octagon in the co-main event of UFC 234 which is set for Feb. 9 from the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. He has a tough test in front of him, as he’s scheduled to take on the red hot Israel Adesanya.
In 2018, 29-year-old Adesanya burst onto the scene. The former kickboxer is an incredibly creative striker, stringing together four-straight UFC victories. He is squarely in the mix in the 185-pound division.
Reminding some of a younger version of Silva, many feel as if Adesanya is matched up against ‘The Spider’ by the UFC due to the Brazilian’s name value.
Silva, however, doesn’t see it that way. In fact, Silva sees this upcoming bout as nothing more than an intriguing challenge and one that could potentially earn him the chance to reclaim the title.
Given the age discrepancy and how the two fighters have looked as of late, it appears as if the masses are favoring Adesanya. Silva, however, obviously doesn’t agree with that logic.
With that being said, the legendary Brazilian will certainly be looking to turn back the clock at UFC 234.
The Anderson Silva Title Reign
With a record of 17-4, Silva made his UFC debut at UFC Fight Night 5 taking on Chris Leben. “The Spider” would go on to make a statement, viciously knocking Leben out just minutes into the first round. The victory not only earned him “Knockout of the Night” honors but it earned him a shot at the middleweight title as well.
Taking on then-champion Rich Franklin at UFC 64, few were aware that one of the greatest title reigns in UFC history was about to begin. Once again, Silva put on a show, knocking out Franklin with a knee in the first round to become the undisputed champion.
Following that victory over Franklin, Silva went on to defend his title a historic 10 consecutive times. That stretch included victories over the likes of Franklin in a rematch, Dan Henderson, Demian Maia, Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort amongst others.
A streak of this nature is rarely seen in MMA and Silva undoubtedly established himself as one of the best fighters the sport had ever seen during that run.
“The Spider” would remain champion until 2013 but since then, his career hasn’t exactly been all sunshine and rainbows.
Looking to defend his title for the 11th-straight time, Silva took on Chris Weidman at UFC 162 in July 2013. Many felt as if Weidman would present a difficult stylistic matchup for Silva, but he shocked the world when he knocked out the Brazilian with a thunderous left hook in the second round of the bout.
The two then went on to rematch five months later at UFC 168, though Weidman once again came out on top after Silva grotesquely broke his leg. Since that second loss to Weidman, Silva has gone just 1-2-1 while failing multiple drug tests.
For example, he scored a victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 183, but the result changed to a no-contest after both men failed drug tests. Testing positive for multiple banned substances, Silva was suspended for one year by the Nevada State Athletic Commission.
Following his return, he lost back-to-back fights to Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier. He then finally got back to his winning ways and scored a decision victory over Derek Brunson at UFC 208.
After beating Brunson, Silva was booked against Kelvin Gastelum. The bout, however, never came to fruition, as Silva once again failed a drug test. However, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) deemed that the result stemmed from a contaminated supplement. Because of that, the Brazilian only received a one-year suspension.
Modern Day and Future
Now eligible to compete, Silva will be looking to right many wrongs and prove that he still has something left. Many, however, are unsure if he’ll truly be able to do so.
Following a highly successful 2018, Adesanya seems primed to become one of the UFC’s next big stars. In addition, many feel as if the promotion booked him against Silva simply to push him over that hump.
Silva, however, has different plans.
Despite his age, Silva has repeatedly expressed his interest continuing to fight on. UFC president Dana White labeled the UFC 234 co-headlining bout a #1 contender bout. Much to the chagrin of both competitors, White did so at Fridays press conference.
Ahead of the bout, many have Adesanya as the favorite, which makes sense given the state of each fighter’s career.
But perhaps ‘The Spider’ has one more trick up his sleeve. Perhaps father time hasn’t fully caught up to one of the sport’s most iconic figures. Nearing the tail end of his career, it’d certainly be the perfect storybook ending for Silva should he earn himself one more chance to stand alone on top of the division he ruled for so many years.
Whether or not he’ll be able to achieve that, however, remains to be seen.