For a period of seven years, Brazilian icon, Anderson ‘The Spider’ Silva, dominated the UFC’s middleweight division, emerging unscathed occasion after occasion. In one fell swoop in 2013 – that was that. Silva had dropped the 185-pound crown and his first defeat since 2006.
Inviting then-undefeated contender, Chris ‘The All American’ Weidman to engage back at UFC 162 – the Baldwin native obliged, leaving Silva unconscious. Silva, now 45 years of age, revealed how that contest may have never occurred – as he juggled the notion of retiring from the sport after his tenth successful title defence against two-time opponent, Chael Sonnen – and his light heavyweight exploits over Stephan Bonnar.
Speaking in a revealing interview with the UFC, Silva explained how a possible retirement was on the cards, until he met with UFC president, Dana White, and then organisation owner, Lorenzo Fertitta.
“I want to stop, I want a time (sic) for myself, to stay with my family,” Silva explained to both White and Fertitta. “I have been doing this for years and I’m losing contact with my kids. I’m only training, it’s not working for me anymore.” (via Guilherme Cruz)
After the meeting, Silva revealed that the promotion had gifted him a brand new Bentley Continental GT in December of 2012 – explaining how he believed the reward was an attempt to entice him to enter the Octagon again, ultimately to “buy him off“.
“But, one day before I started my camp to fight (Chris) Weidman, I already was too saturated,” Silva told. “I never talked about this, never used this term ‘if I win’. I said to [my wife], ‘If I win, I’ll stop. I won’t fight anymore.”
The São Paulo Muay Thai practitioner, as previously noted, dropped the title to Weidman in a shocking second-round knockout. Half a year later, Weidman booked his first title defence against Silva, with the bout coming to an unsightly conclusion almost to the second of the opening clash, with Weidman checking a leg kick from the Brazilian, with Silva breaking both his tibia and fibula in his left leg.
If Silva was to reclaim the middleweight title that night in December, he maintains he would have then called time on his career – with the broken leg he suffered, a “message from God” urging him to continue with his illustrious career.
“I would have stopped if I had won the fight, I wouldn’t fight anymore, but I ended up breaking my leg,” Silva claimed. “I think that was a message from God saying to me, ‘Look, man, you’re not supposed to stop yet. It took so long for you to get here and now you want to stop?’ I don’t know, I think those are subliminal messages that stay in your head.”
After successful surgery on his broken leg, Silva made his first Octagon walk against former WEC and Strikeforce welterweight champion, Nick Diaz in January of 2015. After a unanimous decision win, the bout was overturned to a ‘No Contest’ as Silva failed a post-fight drug test after the presence of drostanolone, and androsterone was flagged in his sample. Diaz would also fail a post-fight drug test after he tested positive for marijuana.
After the suspension, Silva would go on to lose four of his next five outings, to Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier, Israel Adesanya, and Jared Cannonier, with his only win in that four year period, coming in a dubious decision win over Derek Brunson.
Upon his arrival in the UFC, Silva was an immediate revelation. His utilisation of high-level Muay Thai techniques including knees, kicks, and plumb clinches, made him extremely difficult to solve in the Octagon. In his seven years of domination at 185-pounds, Silva had notched wins over Rich Franklin (x2), Chael Sonnen (x2), Chris Leben, Travis Lutter, Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson, Patrick Côté, Thales Leites, Demian Maia, Vitor Belfort, and Yushin Okami.