UFC 234 is happening this Saturday, and while it features a much-anticipated middleweight championship match between Robert Whittaker and Kelvin Gastelum, all eyes are on the return of Anderson "The Spider" Silva to the UFC octagon after a two-year break.
During his speech after the weigh-ins, Anderson was emotional at the prospect of going back to the Octagon, bursting into tears of joy.
"Thank you, guys, thank you, I've worked my entire life for this sport and I try to do my best, and I need to say thank you God for giving one more time the opportunity to give a great show for you guys. Thank you so much Australia, thank you Dana [White], thank you."His longtime coach, Rogerio Comoes, was beside him, later telling MMA Fighting that Silva was driven to tears by the love he has for the sport. He called the experience "surreal" and confessed that it was also hard for him to fight the tears.
Anderson Silva has been with the UFC since 2006, winning the middleweight title at UFC 64 and retaining it for an unprecedented 2,457 days and 10 title defenses. He eventually lost it to Chris Weidman on UFC 162.After his first title loss in six years, it was hard for the once-invincible Anderson Silva to bounce back.
He tried to win the belt in a rematch, but suffered a devastating injury that broke his fibula and tibia in his left leg.
Soon after he recovered, he faced and defeated Nick Diaz, but the athletic commission overturned his win to a no contest after he tested positive for steroids. Silva appealed the charges and was cleared by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), but his reputation never fully recovered.
He then lost his next two fights against future world champions Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier. He would not get an official win until UFC 208 against Derek Brunson in 2017, putting an end to his five-year losing streak.
His opponent now is Israel Adesanya, a 29-year-old whose unpredictable fighting style has earned him the nickname of "The Last Stylebender."
Unlike other UFC fights, there has been nothing but respect between the two opponents. During an interview for MMA Fighting's MMA Hour, Adesanya described the encounter as "LeBron James Facing Michael Jordan."
Regarding his opponent's tears, Adesanya told ESPN that he suspects it's a ploy to weaponize the respect he has for Silva against him.
"I am vulnerable enough to express that I'm in my feelings cause of how he was but, cool, whatevs, doesn't change anything."