Late in 2014, Anderson Silva canceled an existing eight-fight UFC contract to ink a new 15-bout deal with the Las Vegas-based promotion.
So far, “The Spider” has fulfilled three fights on that contract -- and he might only be getting started. Despite being 41 years old and winless in five bouts since 2013, the former middleweight champion believes he has plenty of years left in the sport’s largest mixed martial arts organization.
“I’m so happy because in my heart I have energy. I have a lot of energy for fights...And I talked to my family. My family gives me support [to] finish my contract in the UFC,” Silva said during a recent conference call. “I think I have energy for fight for more years. I think maybe six, seven years. I don’t know. But I have energy. This is more important. I have energy. I have passion and I love my job.”
Silva will face Derek Brunson in the co-main event of UFC 208 (online betting) at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday night. Brunson had been rising up the rankings of the division before having a five-fight winning streak snapped by Robert Whittaker at UFC Fight Night 101 in November.
“I think this fight is great challenge for my time,” Silva said. “I think everything in my life now is for [challenging myself].”
Silva’s last true victory in the Octagon occurred at UFC 153, when he stopped Stephan Bonnar inside of a round to help salvage an injury-plagued event in Rio de Janeiro. Back then, the Brazilian was still the 185-pound king and regarded by many as the sport’s pound-for-pound best. These days, though, Silva is defined by more than wins and losses.
“Yes, I think victory in your life, in my life, in your life, in everybody’s life is important. But I think [what’s] more important now in my life is staying happy, is working happy, staying happy...Now, I change a little bit my focus,” he said. “I have more time for my family. I have more time for my different jobs outside the UFC. But, I think for me now is not too much important how [many] fights I lost, how [many] fights I win. I just put in my heart, do my best and go to fight happy. And when I’m happy, when I stay happy, I think everything’s changed and I’m back to Anderson ‘Spider’ Silva.”
That said, Silva hasn’t completely abandoned dreams of championship gold. He nearly defeated current 185-pound ruler Michael Bisping at UFC Fight Night 84 in February 2016, and considering his status as one of the sport’s all-time greats, it would likely only take a few key wins to climb back into contention.
“ Of course, yes. I think in this division I’m working hard for a long time in my life,” Silva said. “And fighting is part my life. And UFC has changed everything in my life. I need to give back UFC everything because UFC give me the opportunity [to] change everything in the world, [to inspire] the new generation. And yes, of course I think this is the great for my story inside UFC. And yes, of course this is my goal.”