When Anderson Silva was announced as the winner of his UFC 183 main event against Nick Diaz on Saturday night, one of the most fearsome killers the sport of mixed martial arts has even seen dropped to the mat and began sobbing uncontrollably.
And who can blame him for the emotion? Just 13 months ago, the longest-reigning champion in UFC history was stretchered out of the same Octagon at the MGM Grand Garden Arena after suffering a gruesome broken leg, one that most assumed to be career ending.
Saturday, Silva returned to Las Vegas, just a few months shy of age 40, and capped a remarkable comeback. Silva, who held the UFC middleweight title for nearly seven years, returned to the cage and defeated Diaz, who was also making his return to the cage after an extended absence.
The judges' scores were 50-45, 50-45, and 49-46 in favor of Silva.
"Thank you God, for giving me one more chance to stay here," said Silva (34-6). "Thank you to my family and friends, my real friends."
The bout got off to an interesting start, as Diaz, who was fighting for the first time since May, 2013, instantly attempted to goad Silva. He talked trash, dropped his hands, at one point hit the mat and dared Silva to follow, and at another pushed his back into the cage and dared Silva to come at him. Eventually he was admonished by referee John McCarthy for his antics.
Diaz was attempting to get Silva to push forward and throw him off his game, knowing Silva prefers to counterstrike. While Diaz got in his fair share of punches in bunches, Silva simply landed better shots, including full-force kicks with the rehabbed left leg.
After three compelling rounds of this, the pace slowed in the fourth and fifth, as both guys began to look like fighters who had been out of the cage for extended periods. Still, Silva managed to do the bulk of the damage, as Diaz emerged from the bout a bloody mess.
"This was very important to me," said Silva, who snapped a two-fight losing streak. "This was a very important moment for my whole family, for the Brazilians. I went through a whole lot of suffering last year wondering if I'd come back."
Silva hinted that Saturday night's fight could be his MMA swan song.
"My sons, they don't want me to fight," Silva said. "I need to go back to my family now. I don't know."
As for Diaz (26-10, 1 NC), while the former Strikeforce welterweight champion retains his legion of fans, he also hasn't won since defeating B.J. Penn in 2011 and hasn't been close in his three losses since.
Not that Diaz agreed with the decision.
"I think I won every round in the fight," he said.