Once UFC Middleweight champion and face of the sport Anderson Silva appears to be at peace with calling it a career. At age 46, the fighter now begins to court new opportunities beyond Dana White and the UFC.
An elusive combat specialist with heavy punches like a seasoned boxer and legs like a boa, he rose to stardom from 2006-2013 after winning 16 consecutive fights in the Octagon against fighters like Demian Maia, Forrest Griffin, Vitor Belfort, and Chael Sonnen, which generated all-time hype at UFC 117 and 148.
The Spider’s mental acuity for combat inside the Octagon translated to swift evasion of oncoming punches, expert jiu-jitsu game, and punishing counters, which all gave Silva the foundation for a dominant career.
With every win, he also fortified an ego that may have contributed to the end of an era. Frequently heard trash talking opponents inside the Octagon and marketing a fight by berating a contending fighter, Silva’s cadence in the Octagon allowed him to move as he stared down an opponent, with many of his critics waiting on a punch to ultimately land under Anderson’s gibbering jaw. Loving the fighter and hating the persona were equally easy.
After producing the longest title reign in UFC history that started in 2006, Anderson Silva lost to middleweight Chris Weidman at UFC 162. The defeat on July 6, 2013 is still remembered as a “reap what you sow” moment for Silva after he repeatedly lowered his fists at Weidman and invited the counterpunches. Weidman took the opportunity, landed a combination of hits complete with a left hook that dropped Silva. Herb Dean rushed to pull Weidman off of the dazed Silva, and the streak was over.
In December 2013, Silva and Weidman faced off once again, with horrific results. During the bout, Silva snapped his fibula and tibia when Weidman delivered a leg check. The gruesome injury required lengthy physical and mental rehabilitation.
Even after his recovery, Silva endured numerous losses, trouble with anabolic steroid use, and calls to retire from Dana White. However, Silva still produced eight more fights after his streak came to an end. Anderson lost the rematch to Weidman and won two of his last seven fights, though one against Nick Diaz was overturned for steroid use.
Anderson last fought against Uriah Hall in December 2020 after back-to-back losses to Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier. Hall TKO’d Anderson in the fourth, giving the end of his successful journey an uncharacteristic conclusion.
Looking back on a 16-month hiatus leading up to the fight against Uriah Hall, UFC President Dana White immediately regretted allowing Silva to participate in the fight. During his fight against Jared Cannonier, Silva reinjured his right leg and appeared to be finished after the TKO loss. Before the fight against Cannonier, Anderson had been searching for a way back to the peaks of his career after his rematch against Chris Weidman at UFC 168, but age and injury had taken their toll.
Early in 2021, both Anderson and Dana White understood that the final contract had been signed and set. Now in his mid-40s, the end is finally here for Anderson Silva, a pillar of the UFC’s rise to prominence in the 2010s. Fighting isn’t in Silva’s rearview yet though. In an interview with Ariel Helwani and ESPN, The Spider expressed interest in continuing to fight overseas.
As for the next fight, the wheels are already in motion for Anderson. The UFC legend will be moving onto boxing in a match against Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr. on Saturday, June 19th. The event is titled “Tribute to the Kings” with Anderson Silva as the underdog (+275).
Whether his future remains on the canvas or ringside, the Spider has nothing left to prove in the Octagon and is looking for a new start after 25 years. He finishes his career with an MMA record of 34-11, with one no contest.
“When I look back at my journey, I see that nothing has been in vain. I am extremely happy for the opportunity to test my boxing skills with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. I train continuously, always striving for resilience and to overcome obstacles. Fighting is my everlasting breath.”