UFC 183 has come and gone. The Spider made his comeback. He took home a unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz. No longer is our last, lingering memory of one of the greatest fighters of all time a horrific leg break against Chris Weidman.

Talk now has turned to Silva’s future, and whether, at almost forty years old, he’ll continue to fight professionally. Having come back and been successful after such a brutal injury, is one victory enough? Has he silenced his doubters, and possibly his most vocal critic, though he hasn’t outright said it — himself? His family, he has stated, wants him to retire. Silva himself, however, seems to want to continue. Fighting is what he does, fighting is what he knows.

We’ve seen this story before.

Of course, Silva hasn’t taken the damage that a Liddell or a Henderson has over the years. He’s not at a point where we need to question his career after every loss. However, there’s no doubt that he’s on the downside of his MMA career. At his age, there’s no way he couldn’t be.

So the question becomes, what will his legacy be? The greatest middleweight of all time? The greatest of all time? That’s a term that is thrown around all too lightly in MMA, a sport only a few decades into its history, in what is basically still its infancy. At best, MMA is a toddler in terms of development, yet there are more fighters thrown up as “the greatest” in MMA than there are in boxing (Ali), hockey (Gretzky), or basketball (Jordan). B.J. Penn, Fedor, Sakuraba, Silva, GSP, Jones: there are probably more that could be listed as well.

Yet should Silva retire now, he retires with an unavenged loss on his record. Two, in fact, to the same fighter. Does the Diaz win quell doubts about those fights? It’s hard to see how it could. Does it matter?

Maybe. Maybe more to the man himself than to anyone else. Silva is quiet, but he is also proud. He had a lot to prove, to himself most of all, in coming back from such a life-changing injury. Months of rehab. Overcoming the mental side of the injury. Coming back and winning.

Yet Weidman looms in the distance, if Silva wants him. A trilogy fight would be huge. It would allow Silva to avenge the biggest blemish on his record.

That’s something Georges St. Pierre, the fighter most often brought up as a point of comparison to Silva, was able to do. Albeit, he walked away from the sport on a controversial decision victory, he still left as champ, having cleaned out a field of top contenders, and having avenged both losses on his record (Matt Hughes and Matt Sera). There’s a sort of finality to that. No loose ends, no unfinished business.

Jon Jones, a weight class apart from Silva on the other side, has probably the best resume to his name at this point when it comes to wins, with his only loss being a disqualification due to illegal strikes coming early in his UFC run, against Matt Hammill. Discounting that, there’s really nothing but top contenders and former champions on his record: Shogun Rua, former UFC champ, Rampage Jackson, former UFC champ, Vitor Belfort, former UFC champ, Lyoto Machida, former UFC champ, Rashad Evans, former UFC champ, Daniel Cormier, former Strikeforce champ. Jones is still relatively young in the sport, at just twenty-seven, so there’s no telling what will happen. The Gustafsson fight was close, but like GSP, for the time being anyway, there’s no unfinished business outside of a close decision, and Anthony Johnson has, at the very least, delayed any potential rematch.

So we come back to Silva. Does any of this matter to him? Does his legacy matter to him, or does he just want to fight, because it’s all he knows and what he’s trained to do?

In the case of Silva, all evidence points to the fact that he does care about his legacy… but he also feels he can legitimately compete still. Knowing that, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him take another fight. Should he choose to walk away, however, he can go out on a strong win over a name opponent, having overcome the biggest obstacle in his career. Legacy intact.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.