For the best part of a decade, Anderson ''The Spider'' Silva reigned supreme in the UFC's Middleweight division. With ten straight title defences against the likes of Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Demian Maia and Forrest Griffin, many fans and experts believed that Silva could remain undefeated throughout his entire UFC career.
That brings us to July of last year at UFC 162 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Spider faced Chris Weidman in the octagon looking to defend his middleweight title for the 11th time.
Weidman was the top contender and the biggest threat to Silva's championship run at that point, having earned victories over a number of high-profile competitors such as Mark Munoz and Demian Maia.
Coming into their title bout at UFC 162, Weidman was defending a 9-0 winning streak he had earned from not just the UFC but from another Mixed Martial Arts organisation he had been contracted to.
Just over a minute into the second round of their title fight in Las Vegas, Silva was knocked out for the first time in his career by the new champion. With the victory, Weidman received the Knockout of the Night and subsequently the year with what was described as an upset triumph over the seemingly unbeatable Silva. This proved many fans of the sport, that Silva was indeed human inside the octagon.
Following his loss at UFC 162, Silva was once again set to take on Weidman for the title - only this time as the challenger. The match was set to take place in familiar surroundings in Las Vegas at UFC 168 in December of last year.
Silva was determined to avenge his loss of five months previous but was dominated by the conquering Weidman throughout the first round. Weidman then worked on Silva's legs and much to his advantage early in the second round, breaking Silva's left fibula and tibia, ending the bout with a TKO victory and a second defeat in succession for the once dominant champion. Weidman took his MMA streak to eleven wins and no losses while Silva required surgery to mend the broken bones he suffered during this loss.
To date, Silva has announced that his surgery has been a success but has not spoken about a possible return to the octagon or potentially a retirement from the sport altogether. During nearly two decades in MMA, Silva has competed in 39 fights. He has won 33 ofthose and has lost just six and just two losses in nearly eight years with the UFC, both coming against new Middleweight champion Weidman.
It remains a difficult time for fans of 'The Spider' with each supporter hoping that the 38-year-old has still much to offer the sport and can bounce straight back from two straight losses.
One has to wonder if Silva is past his prime and whether or not he is able to offer MMA the same level of class that has been seen in his nearly full decade with the UFC. With Weidman now looking the strongest middleweight in the division, it is questionable even if Silva does return how he could put himself back amongst the top dogs in the UFC. Should he return, 'The Spider' may consider a drop down to the welterweight division.
Do you think Anderson Silva will return to the UFC or is it time for 'The Spider' to hang up his gloves? Have your say below.
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