For the first time since 2006, an Ultimate Fighting Championship legend is no longer part of the roster.
MMA Fighting first broke the news on Thursday that Anderson Silva (34-11, 1 NC) was released by the UFC. Shortly after this story came out, UFC President Dana White disputed the release when speaking to TMZ. A few hours later, White told TMZ that he was mistaken, and that Silva was indeed released from his contract. “The Spider” made his promotional debut at UFC Fight Night 5 in 2006.
The all-time great middleweight started off his UFC tenure by rattling off 16 wins, a record that still stands. Capturing the 185-pound throne by smashing Rich Franklin in his sophomore appearance, Silva went on to defend it 10 times. This consecutive title defense streak record was later trumped by Demetrious Johnson, who retained it in 11 bouts. Along the way, Silva went up to light heavyweight a few times, scoring knockouts of James Irvin, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar – all three failed drug tests after facing Silva. Silva trails only former foe Vitor Belfort (12) for the most knockouts in company history with 11.
Silva lost for the first time, also suffering his first career knockout defeat, when Chris Weidman separated him from his consciousness in 2013. Silva was given an immediate title rematch a few months later, and he broke his leg badly on a checked kick to keep him out of action for over a year. Although Silva started his UFC run at 16-0, he ended it at 1-7 with a no-contest from 2013 to 2020. He leaves the promotion on a three-fight skid, with a decision loss to current champ Israel Adesanya preceding two knockout losses to Jared Cannonier and Uriah Hall.
After the loss to Hall, White wished that Silva would retire and stop competing, not wanting to see the 45-year-old take more damage and potentially harm his legacy. Silva had one fight left on his contract with the promotion, but the UFC waived it to allow him to compete elsewhere. Since then, fans and media members have speculated potential landing places for the middleweight, including joining the ranks of Bellator MMA or Rizin Fighting Federation. Some are even expecting an eventual “dream matchup” against other aging names in the sport like Fedor Emelianenko. The oft-rumored boxing matchup against Roy Jones Jr. also remains a possibility, as Jones Jr. has stated that he will keep competing after facing Mike Tyson in November.
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