Has Anderson Silva fought his final fight in the Octagon?
Anderson Silva. The name conjures up images of violence and artistry all within the confines of a steel cage known as the "Octagon".
For years, he's been the kingpin - champion of the middleweight division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, or UFC for short. The man who defeated opponent after opponent, in spectacularly devastating fashion. He was touted as the greatest mixed martial arts fighter to enter the sport, a result of his victories over 15 men (twice against Rich Franklin, the man he defeated to become champ).
And then, it happened. On July 6, 2013 at UFC 162, the master of the middleweight division lost. At the hands of a younger fighter who was hungry, confident and unphased by the aura of the champion. Some called it a fluke, saying that Silva's dancing and clowning cost him the fight. Some said that had he been taking the fight seriously, he would have never been knocked out.
With one punch, the greatest was reduced to a heap in the center of the cage. It was a sight that no one had ever seen, and few had expected.
Although Anderson's post fight comments stated otherwise, many of us believed that we would witness a rematch between these two. Unfortunately, we'd get it.
Fast forward just under 7 months, to the rematch at UFC 168 on December 28, 2013. It was a night of excitement and an event with some great fights, to be capped off with the main event rematch. The most anticipated in MMA history. It would turn out to be one of the most horrifying sights in the sport.
In the second round of the fight, Anderson threw a hard kick, aimed at one of Weidman's legs. Weidman checked the kick ( a term used to describe how a fighter lifts his leg while bending it in order to defend from the kick). Silva's shin broke when it made contact with Weidman's knee. Slow motion replays showed his lower leg flailing like a rubber hose once broken.
It would be later reported that the former champ's tibia and fibula were both cleanly broken. (The tibia is the largely weight bearing shin bone in the inner part of the leg, while the fibula is on the outside)
Although the surgery has been described as successful, with recovery times estmated by the Las Vegas doctors to be between 6-8 months, one has to ask: have we seen the last of Anderson Silva?
Can a man, even a fit and athletic former champion, return from such a ghastly injury sustained at the age of 38 to compete at the highest level in such a brutal and demanding sport? Can a fighter who is known for great footwork, dancing in and around his opponents, return to form when one of his legs has been completely devastated?
Only time will tell. But, in the world of professional sports, the closer an athlete gets to 40 years of age, the closer they are to the end.
As unfortunate as this may be, we may have witnessed his final fight.