Anderson Silva: The Comeback
Anderson Silva was and arguably is the greatest Mixed Martial Artist of all time. No one can get into a fighter’s head like him, and his intimidation and legacy made every contender feel beaten and ill-prepared before they’d even set foot in the Octagon. His highlight reel is a montage of victories over every noteworthy fighter in MMA. But, on the sixth of July last year, the hype caught up with him, and The Spider lost his first fight in sixteen consecutive bouts – and, more importantly, he lost his title, breaking his UFC record of ten successive title defences.
A big part of his game plan is to goad his opponent, but his boastful style caught up with him in the second round. He urged Weidman on after a jab, and he pretended to be stunned by a left hook. But then Weidman caught Silva with a second hook and sent him reeling. His eyes rolled back. He hit the deck. The MMA world roared. The fight was stopped, and, having killed the king, Weidman was crowned the UFC middleweight champion.
Personally, I wasn’t sure it had actually happened until five months later, when at UFC 168, on the 28th of December, Silva faced Weidman again. He was dominated in the first round, and then it got even worse. Silva threw an inside leg kick, but it was checked by Weidman. And again, the MMA world was stunned, because when Weidman deflected the kick, Silva’s fibula and tibia snapped. With no option but for the fight to be stopped, Weidman walked away still the UFC champion, picking up his first title defence in the process and all against non other than the Spider.
As slowed down footage and gifs of the break went viral, the general consensus within the media and MMA fanbase was that this marked the end for The Spider. Despite not leaving on the terms he would have wanted, it was expected that Silva would retire. Regardless, Silva said he would be back before the end of 2014.
My excitement increases with every update. Silva looks like he’ll meet the target he’s given. First there was a picture on Instagram, of Silva and his family at Christmas – standing on crutches, his leg in plaster. Then Anderson started lifting weights in February. Now, just two months after a brutal, potentially career-ending injury, Silva has uploaded footage of himself drilling pads in the gym.
Silva’s working towards his goal, and you have to believe Weidman is watching with a cold sweat. But if he returns to MMA, will he get another shot straight at the top of the pile, taking on Weidman for the third time? Or, with a ten-fight contract signed, will he climb the middleweight roster inch by inch?
I’m hoping for Silva to return and rise up through the ranks once more, dominating opponents with his signature Muay Thai strikes. But I’m not in any hurry for The Spider to return too soon and risk it all. Whatever Silva chooses, whether it’s to return, or if it’s time to call it a day, he remains an icon, and his legacy will endure.