Anderson Silva’s family hoped his broken leg would persuade him to retire from mixed martial arts.
Instead, the gruesome injury only made him more determined to return to the cage.
The former UFC middleweight champion said Friday that he never seriously considered quitting his sport. When he was certain his leg would hold up under competition again, Silva agreed to fight Nick Diaz at UFC 183 on Jan. 31 in Las Vegas.
“I’m just dying to return to the octagon and do the thing that I most love in my life, and that’s happening right now,” Silva said through a translator.
The Brazilian star’s wife and five children reluctantly support his comeback.
“To tell you the truth, they are not too happy,” Silva said. “But they respect my wish, and now they’re coping with it. … I don’t think anybody’s family would like to see them going to war, and with mine, it wouldn’t be different.”
The 39-year-old Silva will be back in the octagon with a titanium rod in his left leg. He broke his shin in cringe-inducing fashion when middleweight champion Chris Weidman blocked a kick during their rematch in December, and the rod was inserted into his leg to help its healing.
Silva (33-6) has been training for several weeks, even though his leg isn’t at full strength. He believes he’ll have plenty of time to get ready for Diaz (26-9), another popular MMA veteran coming off a long layoff.
“I have been doing a lot of physical therapy, and right now it’s at 95 percent and improving,” said Silva, who updates his fans with frequent training videos on social media. “The day of the fight, it’s going to be 100 percent.”
When Silva left the Las Vegas arena screaming in pain on a stretcher, many fans assumed his career was finished. Silva dominated his division with 16 straight victories and a UFC-record 10 consecutive title defenses during his nearly seven-year reign before Weidman stopped him in the second round of their July 2013 bout.
Silva and Diaz are slated to headline the UFC’s traditional Super Bowl weekend show in an intriguing matchup of superior strikers. Silva and Diaz have long been considered two of the UFC’s best boxers, and both fighters have contemplated taking a pro boxing match at different points in their MMA careers.
“I believe it’s going to be one of the best standup battles of the UFC,” Silva said.
Silva is even thinking beyond his fight with Diaz, saying he plans to fulfill his UFC contract, which still has seven fights remaining. He claims another title shot isn’t his biggest priority, with Weidman firmly in control of the 185-pound division after his win over Lyoto Machida last month.
“Right now it’s not a priority, but it’s not out of the question to fight for the title,” Silva said. “If I have the credentials to fight for the title, I’ll be more than glad to do it.”
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