Anderson Silva: A Legacy Tarnished?
If Anderson Silva had retired in 2013 after his defeat to Chris Weidman in their rematch at UFC 168 we would view Silva in a completely light than we do today.
The horrible sickening injury he suffered in that fight would have allowed Silva to retire with dignity and with sympathy. A freak injury cost the Brazilian the fight, and his fans would argue Silva losing the first fight was a result of him clowning, rather than Weidman being the better fighter.
Silva, of course, carried on and while some will disagree, the image we have now of Silva is very different to the one we would have had if he had indeed called it a day after that infamous fight at UFC 168.
A comeback just over a year later resulted in a win over Nick Diaz, but the result was later changed to a no contest as a result of a failed drug test, another drug issue would later follow. Defeats to Daniel Cormier albeit on short notice at UFC 200, and to Michael Bisping prior to that, resulted in Silva falling further away from his glory days.
A highly disputed win over Derek Brunson in 2017 stopped the losing streak but his second doping violation, as a result of tainted supplements, this time with USADA resulted in another suspension and his return this Saturday against the red-hot prospect Israel Adesanya at UFC 234 seems a case of Silva being fed to the next big thing in the sport.
Silva may well have been completely clean in all his fights prior to the Diaz fight, but there is now doubt, the suspicion that he wasn’t, are all his achievements now tainted. Has the ‘Spider’ fooled us all these years with a web of deceit, Silva, of course, protests his innocence, the fans will draw their own conclusions.
Jon Jones is a similar case, but he is at an age where he could still achieve even greater success than before, and his own doping violations will be less of a memory, but at 43, Silva doesn’t have that luxury.
Lance Armstrong would still be viewed as a cycling god if he hadn’t made the decision to return to the sport in 2010, and Silva would still be considered the GOAT if he had retired in 2013, decisions which have cost both plenty in so many ways.
This weekend at UFC 234 it probably won’t get any better for Silva, the younger mirror image of an opponent is heavily favoured to add another loss to the former long-reigning middleweight champion.
The fight itself might be a sad uncomfortable watch, but the sport doesn’t do compassion.
Silva talks about another title run and bringing back the Silva of old, but the key word is old, which in fighting terms, is exactly what he is. They all try to turn the clock back, very few succeed.
Personally, I find the whole Silva story sad, I can’t watch his old fights with the same enjoyment or feel the same about him. But watching an old once great fighter suffer and take a beating in the cage, whoever it is, isn’t pleasant and I will still have some elements of sympathy for him if the expected happens on Saturday night.