Anderson Silva, one of the greatest martial artists of all time, will make his final walk to the Octagon on Saturday in Las Vegas. Probably. Maybe.
True to form, Silva is playing with the idea of retirement ahead of his UFC Fight Night main event against Uriah Hall. Throughout the past several weeks, Silva has gone back and forth so much on his future plans, he basically has covered every possibility. It could be the final fight of his career. It could be just his final fight in the UFC. It could be neither.
If there is one certainty about Silva, it’s that the 45-year-old legend will have a difficult time walking away whenever the moment comes. He spoke, earnestly, about his family begging him to retire after he defeated Nick Diaz at UFC 183 — nearly six years ago. Silva broke into tears at the UFC 234 weigh-in and mentioned fighting “one more time.” That was two fights ago.
Throughout his incredible 22-year professional career, Silva has been a master of deception and mystique. Even when he was in the prime of his 16-fight win streak, which lasted from 2006 to 2013, it never felt like the fan base — or any of his opponents — truly had him figured out. He became a superstar in the sport while maintaining a certain level of secrecy and privacy.
It makes sense, then, that as Silva (maybe, maybe not) goes into his final appearance in the UFC, we really have no idea what to make of it. This is a guy we’ve kind of said goodbye to on multiple occasions, the earliest of which came in December 2013, when he suffered a gruesome leg injury during a loss to Chris Weidman. And yet here we are seven years later, talking about goodbyes.
In a way, that loss to Weidman was the night we said goodbye to Silva, at least as we knew him. His record since then is 1-4 with a no contest, the only win a controversial decision. He was suspended from the sport for one year in 2015 after testing positive for multiple steroids. Simply put, Silva’s UFC career can be split into two defining chapters: before and after the leg injury.
But the one bridge between them, and it happens every time Silva fights, is this opportunity to appreciate and celebrate what he once was — and admire the true love this man has for the sport. It carried him to a Hall of Fame career and has kept him fighting into 2020. And, possibly, beyond.
Whether this proves to be the final chapter of Silva’s career, it is worth taking a second to revel in his greatness, as if it 100% is the end.
By the numbers
1: Victory for Silva since October 2012. After starting his UFC run at 16-0, he is 1-6 with a no contest ever since. Some differences: From 2006 to 2012, Silva had 14 finishes and 11 title fight wins — he has zero of either since then. His significant striking differential: +227 from 2006 to 2012 and -86 from 2013 to 2020.
12: Finishes among Hall’s 16 career wins, all but one by knockout.
60.2: Significant strike accuracy percentage for Silva, the highest in UFC middleweight history. Hall connects at a 50.7% clip, the sixth highest among active middleweights.
1: Previous UFC main events for Hall (lost to Gegard Mousasi as a headliner in November 2016). Silva has been in a record 19 (see right).
2: Fighters older than Silva who have won a UFC fight. Randy Couture was 47 when he choked out boxer James Toney in August 2010, and Dan Henderson was 45 years, 285 days old when he KO’d Hector Lombard in June 2016. On fight night, Silva will be 45 years, 200 days old.
Sources: ESPN Stats & Information and UFC Stats
A look back
Five vs. five
Uriah Hall’s most recent results
Win: Antônio Carlos Júnior (SD, Sept. 14, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Bevon Lewis (KO3, Dec. 29, 2018)
Loss: Paulo Costa (TKO2, July 7, 2018)
Win: Krzysztof Jotko (TKO2, Sept. 16, 2017)
Loss: Gegard Mousasi (TKO1, Nov. 19, 2016)
Anderson Silva’s most recent results
Loss: Jared Cannonier (TKO1, May 11, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Loss: Israel Adesanya (UD, Feb. 10, 2019; watch on ESPN+)
Win: Derek Brunson (UD, Feb. 11, 2017)
Loss: Daniel Cormier (UD, July 9, 2016)
Loss: Michael Bisping (UD, Feb. 27, 2016)
And the winner is …
This fight was actually supposed to happen in 2016, and it’s probably safe to say that the delay favors Hall. Not only because Silva is now 45, but Hall just seems to be in a very good place. In 2016, Hall wound up losing three consecutive fights, the longest skid of his career. The losses were to good competition, but in general, Hall had not hit his stride at that point in his career. Especially compared to where he is now. He’s 3-1 in his last four, and he gave Paulo Costa a hard fight in 2018. Hall is more composed and he seems to have found a good home at Fortis MMA under head coach Sayif Saud. His confidence is higher now than it would have been fighting Silva in Brazil four years ago. I think he shines on Saturday and takes advantage of this main event opportunity. Hall via knockout, third round.
Saturday’s fight card
ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET
Uriah Hall vs. Anderson Silva | Middleweight
Andre Fili vs. Bryce Mitchell | Men’s featherweight
Kevin Holland vs. Makhmud Muradov | Middleweight
Maurice Greene vs. Greg Hardy | Heavyweight
Bobby Green vs. Thiago Moisés | Lightweight
ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET
Chris Gruetzemacher vs. Alexander Hernandez | Lightweight
Adrian Yanez vs. Victor Rodriguez | Men’s bantamweight
Sean Strickland vs. Jack Marshman | Middleweight
Cole Williams vs. Jason Witt | Welterweight
Dustin Jacoby vs. Justin Ledet | Light heavyweight
Miles Johns vs. Kevin Natividad | Men’s bantamweight
How to watch the fights
Watch the fights on ESPN+. If you don’t have ESPN+, get it here.
There’s also FightCenter, which offers live updates for every UFC card.
Bryce Mitchell finally will have the look he loves
Bryce Mitchell has had four fights in the UFC and won them all, and after each victory he has done two things: shout out his beloved home state of Arkansas and request — no, demand — that Reebok make him a pair of camo shorts. He says that look reflects who he is and where he comes from.
On Saturday, when Mitchell walks into the Octagon for the co-main event, the 26-year-old from Searcy, Arkansas, will be doing so in style.
Camo shorts. He got the OK from the UFC and its fight attire sponsor, Reebok.
Mitchell will be putting his unbeaten Octagon record on the line against 15-fight UFC veteran Andre Fili. A win by Mitchell would make him the sixth fighter to start his UFC career 5-0 at featherweight, joining Jose Aldo, Conor McGregor, Yair Rodriguez, Arnold Allen and Zabit Magomedsharipov.
Let’s see if Mitchell’s new look leads to an inspired performance.
“It’s not just a pair of shorts…”
— UFC (@ufc) October 28, 2020
Two more things to know (from ESPN Stats & Information)
2. Also 3-0 this year is lightweight Bobby Green. If he beats Thiago Moises, Green would be the fifth lightweight to reach four victories in a calendar year, joining Donald Cerrone (2011, 2014), Jim Miller (2010), Rustam Khabilov (2016) and Roger Huerta (2007). Green would be the fastest to four wins in UFC modern era history, doing so in 128 days.
ESPN’s Jeff Wagenheim contributed to this fight preview.