In the immediate aftermath of his victory over Nick Diaz at UFC 183, Anderson Silva didn’t sound like a man with long-term aspirations in MMA.
Before the failed drug tests and the embarrassing Nevada Athletic Commission hearing, Silva was simply a 39-year-old man who had successfully returned to claim victory in the Octagon following a career-threatening injury one year earlier. In those moments, “The Spider” wasn’t ready to contemplate anything too far into the future. At the post-fight press conference, Silva revealed that his family was urging him to retire.
“It’s a difficult decision,” he said then.
Fast-forward to the present, and things have clearly changed. Silva is set to return following a one-year suspension when he faces Michael Bisping at the UFC Fight Night headliner in London on Feb. 27. Even without the positive steroid tests, Silva says he would have returned to the Octagon after UFC 183.
“Retirement is something very personal, but no, I would‘ve continued doing what I love,” Silva said through a translator during a media call. “I always told my kids if you have a dream you have to follow it and give it your all. If you don’t, you’re gonna be frustrated for the rest of your life that you didn’t try. That’s what I’m doing. I have a dream that I’m going after and that’s to get that belt back. I’m going to try my best to go back there and get it back.”
When Silva was middleweight champion, he was widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in all of mixed martial arts. Then he took a 17-fight winning streak into UFC 162 and was knocked out by Chris Weidman in the second round. Some blamed the defeat on his clowning antics, but when his leg was shattered throwing a kick in their rematch at UFC 168, there was no doubt as to who was the better man.
Over the past two years, Silva has spent as much time rehabbing and serving out a suspension as he has fighting. He is well aware of those who don’t believe he can accomplish his goal of recapturing UFC gold.
“My motivation is that a lot of people counted me out,” he said. “I’ve always believed that I can do things people think are impossible. A lot of people think it’s crazy. A lot of people think it’s impossible. That’s what’s motivating me: to prove them wrong.”
As long as Silva enjoys fighting, he plans on remaining a part of the UFC. That is something he conveyed to his family, and after the initial emotion that accompanied UFC 183, they seem to OK with that.
“I’m a martial artist. I train martial arts every day. It’s a part of my life. Fighting is something that I’ve done very well and still do very well,” Silva said. “I’m well trained. And I’m motivated. Motivation comes from the inside. As long as I’m motivated and excited to keep fighting, I’m going to keep doing it, as long as my body will let me. After my last fight I had a discussion with my family. I explained to my kids what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, and my kids are completely supporting. I’m going to fight as long as my body and motivation allows.”