UFC president Dana White on Friday confirmed that former titleholder Anderson Silva would get a title shot if he defeats Israel Adesanya at UFC 234 early next year.
The Feb. 10 fight card in Melbourne, Australia, is headlined by UFC middleweight champion Robert Whittaker putting his belt on the line opposite Kelvin Gastelum. Silva and Adesanya will compete in support of that bout, but either could also easily serve as a back-up plan if either Whittaker or Gastelum is unable to fight.
If the worst doesn’t happen and everything goes as planned, Silva could be staring at a title shot. White said it’s true that Silva was promised a shot at the belt if he agreed to take the fight with Adesanya and beat him.
“I hadn’t seen (Silva) in a while. I flew out to Los Angeles and we sat down and talked. I told him I wanted the Israel Adesanya fight. He said, ‘I’m just coming back. How does that make sense for me?'” White recounted.
“It makes sense for you because if you win, I’ll give you the title shot. Then he said, ‘Now you’re talking buddy. I like the way you’re thinking.'”
Silva hasn’t fought since he defeated Derek Brunson at UFC 208 in February 2017. He had a fight lined up with Gastelum, but was removed when he got flagged for a potential UFC Anti-Doping Policy violation. During the adjudication process, Silva was found to not have been at fault after he ingested a contaminated substance.
Coming back for what will be his first fight in two years, Silva is chasing his former glory. The past few years prior to the Brunson bout had been rocky and littered with losses. Prior to that, however, Silva was one of the most dominant champions in UFC history. White is hoping to see a flicker of that flame burn bright again.
“I love that Anderson Silva wants to come back and fight Israel for a title shot,” he said. “Once I told him it was for the title, we had a fight.”
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