Wanderlei Silva Recovering, Hoping for February Return vs. Leben or Belfort

Wanderlei Silva's surgically repaired right knee is still healing, but it didn't stop the MMA legend from attending this past weekend's UFC 118, nor has it stopped him from dreaming big about the future.

Silva, who still has significant rehabilitation ahead of him, said that if all goes well, he hopes to be back competing in the octagon in February or March.

"I feel good," Silva said during UFC 118 weekend. "I had surgery and in the last year I've repaired my face and my knee. I want to fight six more years, until my 40s."

The "Axe Murderer," who turned 34 in July, rattled off a list of names he'd like to face in his comeback match, but seemed most interested in a rematch against fellow Brazilian Vitor Belfort, or a matchup with Chris Leben.

The Leben fight interests Silva because after he pulled out of UFC 116, the native Oregonian replaced him and went on to defeat Yoshihiro Akiyama for his third straight victory, then said he would love to face Silva in the future.

It's a matchup Silva likes.

"He won't pass the first two rounds with me," Silva said. "I saw his fight with Akiyama. It was a great match, and he beat him in the final round. He's a tough guy. He had only fought two weeks earlier. I think it will be perfect for my next fight."

"If he wants me, I'm going to fight him for sure," he said moments later.

But it's also clear he still has a burning desire to avenge one of the first setbacks in his career: a TKO at the hands of Belfort. That match, which took place at UFC: Ultimate Brazil (also referred to as UFC 17.5) in Oct. 1998, remains the most lopsided defeat of his career; it took just 44 seconds.

"I didn't study his tapes [then]," Silva said. "He's fast, and I couldn't react. Now, I have the technique to beat him.

"We'll have a really good match," he continued. "He's tough. He has very good cardio. Sometimes, we're so nervous in the fights, but he is very calm. He has incredible cardio and is a good fighter. I would like to fight him again."

The crowd-pleaser spent much of the weekend in Boston, meeting with fans and signing autographs at the Fan Expo despite the fact that he was forced to get around with crutches or sometimes with the aid of a wheelchair. Still, his ever-present smile was flashing as he spoke about his desire to get back to doing what he loves most.

He said that he'll spend much of his upcoming training to working on his wrestling, noting that he realizes how valuable it is to be able to put the fight where you want it, but fresh off his win over Michael Bisping and surgery, Silva believes that he can still make another run to a championship.

"I think my best days will be back soon," he said.

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