Take a moment to think back to light heavyweight fighters who flew up the rankings as soon as they stepped foot inside the Octagon. Your first response may be Jon Jones or Alexander Gustafsson, but think back even farther, to 2007.

In that year, it was Thiago Silva who was impressing fans with victories in which he finished his opponents. Silva defeated the likes of James Irvin, Tomasz Drwal and Houston Alexander in 2007, along with Antonio Mendes the following year. And, with the exception of Irvin, who suffered a knee injury that led to a TKO, Silva did so with a flurry of fists that resulted in two TKOs and a submission due to strikes. His stock was on the rise and he was thrust into fights with the division’s bigger names, but that’s when the light heavyweight’s career took a downhill turn.

Silva hasn’t had an official victory since 2009, when he knocked out Keith Jardine in under two minutes. Since that fight, the Brazilian has gone 0-2 with two no-contests. Silva had notched wins over Brandon Vera and Stanislav Nedkov, but both were overturned due to failed drug tests, resulting in suspensions for Silva of a year and six months, respectively.

The UFC has decided to keep Silva on its roster, however, and is putting him on the main card against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante this Saturday at UFC on Fuel TV 10. But if Silva loses this fight—or fails another drug test—will his time with the promotion come to an end?

Considering that he is winless—officially, at least—since 2009 and is quite likely on thin ice with the UFC due to those failed drug tests, Silva is quite likely fighting for his job on Saturday.

Silva was once a contender who headlined two events in his career. Unfortunately, those days are over unless he puts together a string of wins while also handling himself properly outside the cage. At 30 years old, Silva still has the time and potential to try to make a run toward the top of the division, but he is currently ranked outside the top 10 and has lost a significant amount of momentum since suffering his first loss at the hands of Lyoto Machida in 2009.

Against Cavalcante, Silva will have an opportunity to ignite a fresh winning streak with hopes of becoming a top-10 UFC light heavyweight. Silva has been in many big fights, challenging top contenders such as Machida, Gustafsson and Rashad Evans, but this fight on Saturday will without a doubt be the most important of his career.

With other up-and-coming 205-pound fighters rising in the rankings, Silva will need to show the UFC and its fans that he has what it takes to stay relevant (and clean). With everything that has gone on in his past, Silva will need to take advantage of this chance to prove himself in front of his home country of Brazil.

If his hand isn’t raised at UFC on Fuel TV 10, Silva shouldn’t be surprised if he receives his walking papers.

Photo: Thiago Silva (blue gloves) lands a knee on Rashad Evans (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Corey Adams
Staff Writer

Corey Adams didn't grow up watching mixed martial arts, considering the UFC was just getting started the year he was born, but in his teenage years, witnessed the action and has fallen in love with the sport. Corey was the first to join The MMA Corner staff -- other than founder Josh Davis -- and has been writing for the site ever since. Corey attends Austin Peay State University, where he majors in Communications with a focus on journalism. When he's not covering MMA, Corey is still writing on many sports with both local and campus newspapers. His favorite sports teams are the Atlanta Braves and Denver Broncos. Follow him on Twitter at the link below.