Anderson Silva had one of the greatest runs in MMA history. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Anderson Silva’s title reign began on Oct. 14, 2006, when he devastated Rich Franklin with knees from the Thai clinch to capture the UFC middleweight strap.
It ended 2,458 days, 16 victories and 10 title defenses later, courtesy of a Chris Weidman left hook at UFC 162 on July 6, 2013. In between, Silva’s aura of invincibility grew to epic proportions, and “The Spider” became a fixture in all-time pound-for-pound discussions along with fellow champions like Fedor Emelianenko and Georges St. Pierre.
Silva not only lost his title to Weidman, he also suffered a horrifically broken leg in their rematch some six months later at UFC 168. Now, the Brazilian will look to regain some of that lost mojo when he meets Nick Diaz in the UFC 183 headliner at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night. After all those years atop the mountain, Silva is just one of many 185-pound contenders in a division ruled by Weidman.
No average person, says Ed Soares, Silva’s manager, can begin to fathom what such a run of greatness might be like. Silva, on the other hand, might have had some difficulty coming to grips with his MMA mortality when he finally did lose.
“I think he got to a point where he forgot what it was like not to be champion,” Soares said during an appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “MMA Rounds” show. “You go seven years being the champ and everyone’s telling you you’re the greatest, you’re the best. It’s very easy to sit back and judge how you would act, how I would act. But until you walk in his shoes, until anybody’s walked in his shoes it’s really hard to say. You walk around as the baddest man on the planet for seven years, it’s gotta make some changes [in the way you think].”
Soares, like many in the MMA community, is eager to see Silva back in action. When the fighter first broke his leg, the subject of his Octagon future was not even broached, as Soares said those close to Silva were more concerned with his recovery.
However, now that Silva is set to return, Soares is as interested as everyone else to see what might be in store.
“He has made an incredible recovery. He’s in great spirits right now -- mentally, physically. He’s firing with all cylinders. He’s doing really well,” Soares said. “And I’m really looking forward to seeing him back in there. Not only because of the relationship I have with as a friend, as a brother, but as a fan.
“It means a lot to see a fighter that has accomplished so much come back after a devastating injury and I’m really looking forward to that. I’m sure most of the mixed martial arts world is too.”
Will Silva be able to conquer the 185-pound weight class again at age 39? If all goes as planned against Diaz, he will be given every opportunity. On a recent episode of “UFC Tonight,” promotion head Dana White said that Silva will be next in line for a title shot should he defeat the controversial Stockton, Calif., resident.
While the UFC’s plans can change on a whim, Soares believes the chance to watch Silva compete once again is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity regardless.
“I think every single Anderson Silva fight is monumental. It’s not just a fight; it’s an event. Especially if you’re a fan of the sport. If you were to be a able to go back 35 years and be able to watch Muhammed Ali fight live, would you do that? That’s kind of how I feel about Anderson Silva,” Soares said. “If you’re a fan, not only of mixed martial arts, but just a sports fan, I believe every time Anderson fights -- regardless of the result -- it’s always a very monumental fight.
“If you’re able to watch it live, why wouldn’t you? Because 25-30 years from now you’re gonna regret you didn’t.”