Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is on the comeback trail and is aiming for another run in the 185-pound division. He’ll get his first crack at life inside the Octagon with a return on Jan. 31 at UFC 183 and a highly anticipated fight with Nick Diaz.
Ahead of his long-awaited return, Silva reflected on the landscape of the middleweight division, a weight class currently ruled by the man who took the title from him, Chris Weidman. The Long Island, N.Y. fighter is preparing to face another of Silva’s former foes, Vitor Belfort, and the two are scheduled to face off at a date in early 2015.
Although Weidman is the overall favorite against Belfort, the former champ is picking his fellow Brazilian in the middleweight title fight. In fact, Silva said he’s “rooting” for Belfort to win.
“My personal opinion about Vitor, of all the athletes in the 185-pound weight class … he is the most complete athlete,” Silva said at a recent press conference in Brazil. “He’s more explosive, he’s got better boxing, good jiu-jitsu, good wrestling. Chris Weidman, he’s a new athlete. He’s a new generation. He’s a young athlete and he’s coming out very strong. It’s a fight that everyone is gonna want to see. With all my energy I’m going to be rooting for Vitor to win.”
Silva stopped Belfort in the first round at UFC 126 back in 2011 with one of the most memorable front kicks in MMA history. Since then, Belfort has won five of his last six and gone undefeated at middleweight.
During Belfort’s run, Silva broke his leg in a rematch with Weidman last December. The injury sidelined Silva for several months and prevented him from working his way back to the title for an extended period of time. But if he beats Diaz and Belfort comes out the winner against Weidman, Silva and the fighter he’s rooting for may one day meet again in the Octagon.
If a Brazilian vs. Brazilian title fight happens, Silva said it’ll show just how good fighters from his and Belfort’s homeland are compared to the rest of the world.
“The title is international, so if there are two Brazilians fighting for the belt, it’s a little suspect,” he said. “It just shows that we’re that good. If there’s two Brazilians fighting for the belt it’s because we’re the best at what we do.”
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