As of September 7, it will have been nine months since Antonio Silva and Mark Hunt put on one of the most memorable heavyweight fights in UFC history. That December 7 clash -- which fittingly ended in a majority draw, and ended up near the top of many people's Fight of the Year lists -- was commemorated a week later by Dana White, who wore a t-shirt at the UFC on FOX weigh-ins already boasting of Silva-Hunt II.
And that date will also mark the end of the nine-month suspension "Bigfoot" received for testing positive for elevated testosterone in the aftermath.
Silva was forced to give his bonus money for Fight of the Night honors ($50,000) to Hunt after failing the drug post-fight test. The majority draw, which was so apt at the time, was switched to a "no contest," and Silva was issued a nine-month suspension by the UFC (who regulated itself that night in Brisbane). Since then Silva has quietly served out his suspension, and remained out of the public eye for the most part.
But with his eligibility to fight again coming up, the Brazilian has begun circling potential foes. And the first name he came up with was former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett, who last fought at UFC 168 in December against Travis Browne (a KO loss).
As reported on UFC Tonight, Silva's manager Alex Davis says "Bigfoot" would like to meet Barnett when he comes back sometime in the fall. In reaching out to Barnett's camp for a response, Ariel Helwani was told by his manager Leland Lebarre that "Bigfoot" should be careful what he wishes for.
"Josh sees no professional reason to fight Bigfoot," Lebarre said. "We don't have any issues with him, so if [Silva] really wants to do this, he really needs to think about it first. Because we won't take something like this lightly."
Barnett has had his own trouble with failed drug tests in the past, but hasn't had any incidents in the last few years with Strikeforce and in his most recent UFC run. Since losing to Browne via knockout (elbows), Barnett has been serving out his medical suspension and waiting for news on who he'll fight next.
As for Silva, though he was granted a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) for his fight with Hunt, he still came in over the allowable limit on fight week. In explanation afterwards, Silva said that he had taken one last shot, unaware that it would tip his levels into the red.
Silva, who has "gigantism" -- a condition that causes an over-abundance of growth hormone in human beings -- has been trying to stabilize his levels since that time. Davis told UFC Tonight that Silva will be undergoing surgery again on his pituitary gland to remove a benign tumor that had developed there, once he can deal with the expenses. Silva had surgery to remove the tumor once before, but some tissue was missed in the process. Davis said that this procedure, once fully corrected, will help normalize his testosterone levels, as injections haven't been working and radiotherapy might lower his T levels even more.