Anderson Silva is eager to get back into the Octagon. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Through it all -- the writhing in agony on the Octagon floor, the emergency surgery, the grueling rehab -- Anderson Silva never once thought about quitting.
“The Spider” suffered a gruesomely broken left leg throwing a kick in a loss to Chris Weidman at UFC 168 this past December. The former middleweight champion had a rod inserted into his left tibia during an emergency procedure after the bout. Word of his recovery came in bits and pieces until a major breakthrough in June: Silva was officially cleared to spar.
Earlier this week, Dana White announced that Silva would face Nick Diaz in a blockbuster middleweight clash as part of the promotion’s traditional Super Bowl weekend card at UFC 183. It was an arduous process, to be sure, but the man who had to endure it all to get to this point didn’t think twice about what he was doing -- even at 39 years old.
“Retirement never went through my mind,” Silva said through translator Jorge Guimares during a conference call on Friday. “What’s happening right now is I’m just dying to return to the Octagon and do the thing I most love in my life.”
Silva clearly has no qualms about returning to active competition. However, his family had a different view.
“To tell you the truth, they were not too happy. But they respect my wish, and now they’re coping with it,” he said.
Silva said there are no limitations on his training and that his leg is “95 percent and improving.” He expects to be 100 percent by fight night. The hardware in the middleweight’s leg is not an issue, and there are currently no plans to remove it with another surgery.
While Silva broke his leg as a result of a checked kick, he claims there was no apprehension the first time he attempted to throw a kick in training -- nor will there be when he squares off with Diaz on Jan. 31. By then, Silva says, it will be full speed ahead.
“I’m not kicking as hard as I usually do [in training],” Silva said. “But I’m going to wait to kick hard on the day of the fight.”
When Silva relinquished the 185-pound belt to Weidman at UFC 162 more than a year ago, it ended a record streak of 10 consecutive title defenses for “The Spider.” After he lost to “The All-American” again at the end of last year, it seemed to solidity Weidman’s spot atop the division.
Weidman has done nothing to dispel that notion, capturing a five-round verdict over former light heavyweight king Lyoto Machida in his most recent outing at UFC 175.
Silva has been monitoring the division from afar during the past several months, and he is impressed with not only Weidman, but a number of contenders in the weight class.
“Of course I’ve been following all the fights. Chris Weidman is a great champion. The guy is for real,” Silva said. “But there is no doubt it’s a stacked weight class now with [Ronaldo Souza], Luke Rockhold -- [and] Vitor Belfort is for sure a great contender. The [division] is only getting better.”
Eight fights remain on Silva’s current UFC deal, which seems like a lot for a fighter approaching his 40th birthday. With his focus currently on Diaz, Silva can’t guarantee that he will fulfill the duration of his contract.
And as for getting back into title contention? Silva wouldn’t rule it out -- but he isn’t necessarily losing sleep over the possibility, either.
“Obviously right now it’s not my priority, but it’s not out of the question to fight for the title,” he said. “If I have the credentials to fight for the title, I’ll be more than glad to do it. I’m going to see how I perform [at UFC 183]. That’s my main priority now.”
Both Silva and Diaz will enter their heavily hyped bout on two-fight skids. That hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm surrounding the bout, no matter what Diaz might have to say about it. As for Silva, he plans on delivering the goods.
“This fight has all the ingredients to be one of the best fights of all time,” he said.