Anderson Silva Returns But Questions Remain

Anderson Silva made his return on Saturday night defeating Nick Diaz in the main event of UFC 183. It was ‘The Spider’s’ first fight since his gruesome 2013 leg injury incurred in a loss to Chris Weidman. Silva broke his left fibula and tibia but a less refined diagnosis was ‘he broke his leg in half’. There was speculation that Silva would retire from the sport—and many fans, media and fighters thought that was the smart move. But after surgery and a long recovery there he was this past weekend inside the UFC octagon. For those who missed betting on UFC, stay tuned for UFC 184.

So now what? Silva left as many questions as answers in his UFC 183 performance. He left as many questions as answers in the wake of the bout. The fight was much closer than the unanimous decision win would suggest. Silva fanboys (including, sadly, much of the MMA media) would chortle that the ‘Spider is back’ and demand an immediate middleweight championship rematch with Weidman. Anti-hero Diaz’s surprisingly large legion of fans screamed ‘robbery’. More objective observers saw a close, tactical and tough to judge matchup.

Silva’s punching looked sharp in spots but didn’t have the ‘stopping power’ it once did. He’s a fighter that isn’t supposed to ‘go the distance’. Maybe it was ‘ring rust’ or the knowledge that he was in against an opponent that hadn’t been KO’d since 2002 (the other TKO loss on Diaz’s record is the highly dubious Strikeforce ‘stoppage due to cuts’ against KJ Noons in 2007). In any case, it was in no way a ‘dominating’ performance despite the unanimous decision verdict from the judges. It’s possible to dominate your way to a decision–Georges St. Pierre has made a very successful career of it—but Silva didn’t do that.

The most accurate description is something like this—a 39 year old fighter looked decent in his return from a nasty injury. This is good news for the UFC, a promotion that finds themselves with plenty of competent fighters but very few ‘names’ that resonate with mainstream sports fans. At the same time, Silva’s performance gave the impression that his best years are behind him. Fighters ‘get old’ very quickly and often age before our eyes. Silva may have done just that on Saturday night.

Silva is a smart guy and appears to realize all of this. He’s now in a position where he could demand another shot at the middleweight title—immediately or after another tune up fight. The UFC quickly comply and they’d have another marketable PPV main event. Yet Silva is unsure that he wants to continue fighting saying that he’s ‘unsure’ about his future in the UFC.

It’s common for older fighters to speculate about their future in the sport. Few retire in the ring but most will admit they’re ‘thinking about it’ in postfight interviews. That usually happens after a loss, however, and never after a supposedly dominating win. At this point, the only person who has a clue about Silva’s future is the man himself—and maybe he’s looking for the same answers that we are.


Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>