On January 31st, 2015, the greatest fighter in UFC history will return to the Octagon. Anderson Silva makes his comeback from a broken leg to face the always entertaining Nick Diaz. Silva has not fought since the second Chris Weidman fight in which he had the horrific leg break. That was at the end of 2013, so The Spider will have had over one year to heal his leg and mind. Silva has seven fights left on his contract, including the Diaz battle. If he wins in his return, what will be next for the former middleweight champion?
Nick Diaz should be a good matchup for Anderson Silva and for MMA fans. Styles often make fights and these two guys can strike with the best of them. They may just slug it out in a stand up fight that won’t last very long. Diaz will be fighting after more than a year off, so some ring rust could be a factor for him as well. He reportedly has been keeping in shape, but that is much different from fighting on a regular basis. His last two Octagon losses came at the hands of champions. Georges St-Pierre and Carlos Condit both beat him via decisions.
Recovering from the injury against Weidman has been a long journey for Silva. It takes time to heal such an awful break. I am no doctor, but it is hard to even imagine a person ever being the same in just walking around. Being the same as a MMA fighter is even more unfathomable to me. I simply cannot believe he will be the same fighter from an athletic standpoint. From a mental standpoint Silva has to overcome the memory of what happened the last time he was in a cage fight. That is not an easy task, and maybe even harder than overcoming the physical comeback. Imagine having your leg shattered, flopping around like a ‘Stretch Armstrong’ body part. Now think about having to go back in the ring and use that same leg to kick over and over. Not an easy thing to get past.
This is going to be a fight. A man’s fight. These are two proud and tough fighters. Anything can happen in this matchup. I don’t see it going to a decision, as they are both capable of ending a fight with strikes. If Silva loses this fight, I am not sure where he would turn for his next fight. He claims that his losses to Weidman are in the past. He only wants to focus on his next fight. He says, “If I earn another chance to fight for the title I would do it, but it’s not in my plans right now. My plan is to fight and get some confidence.” He seems to have accepted his title loss and the subsequent loss in the rematch. That may be just his public thoughts and privately he is itching to get another shot at his dethroner, Weidman. I will take him at his word, but a true champion would like to get back on top. And Anderson Silva was a champion in every sense of the word.
If the UFC as an organization had it their way, Silva will be the victor. They can do much more with that scenario. Silva is more popular than Diaz and a bigger draw. If Silva does beat Nick Diaz, he will be in line to fight Weidman for a third fight, but I think that fight would be at the end of 2014. Silva would likely want another fight under his belt before trying to regain his middleweight title. That is the smart move in my opinion.
Would I like to see the third installment of Silva v Weidman? Yes. I would like to see it instead of this Diaz contest actually. I would hate for Silva to lose in a fight and never get back to a title shot. That is a real possibility. On the other hand, I want to see The Spider back at 100 percent physically and mentally. He does need a couple of fights to get there. Logically I suppose if he loses before getting a shot at the belt, he does not deserve the shot anyway.
It is just a shame that he lost to Chris Weidman in the way he did in both fights. Make no mistake, neither fight was a fluke. Silva acted a fool and got KO’d in fight one. His fault. Fight two saw Weidman do proper defense of a leg kick which resulted in an unlikely leg break for Silva. Everyone lost in those fights. Silva was dethroned as the middleweight champ and pound for pound champ. Weidman won but still does not get the credit he deserves for beating Anderson Silva. No matter how he won, he beat a guy who had looked like a video game version of himself as he embarrassed fighter after fighter. UFC fans lost as well. We did not get to see if Silva would find a way to hold onto his belt in the first fight, had he not been clowning. In the second fight, the injury ended what could have been an epic fight.
For now the focus for Silva is on Nick Diaz. That is the way it should be. Anything less than total focus will cause another blemish on the Brazilian’s record. I will be anxious to see how this fight plays out. The implications are enormous. In the few months leading up to Silva’s return, anything can happen. Injuries to him or Diaz in training. Weidman could lose the belt. Diaz could go crazy and just retire. In the fight game, we have to expect the unexpected. I hope nothing derails this middleweight battle. No matter the outcome, the fans are ready for the return of the man Joe Rogan has called in all seriousness, “the greatest fighter in the history of mankind”. I am ready to see it as well. I am even more excited to see what happens in the months afterward.