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Ed Soares: Anderson Silva is ‘motivated,’ and wouldn't put it past him to win the title again

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

In the time that Anderson Silva has been away from the fight game, the middleweight division that he once ruled has shifted fairly dramatically. The man who took his title and later defended it against him, Chris Weidman, is no longer the champion.

The belt now belongs to Luke Rockhold, who defeated Weidman in December at UFC 194. Though now that it looks like the UFC is opting to book a rematch between Weidman and Rockhold at UFC 199 in June, there’s still some possibility out there. With Silva slated to return to action Saturday against Michael Bisping in London at UFC Fight Night 84, it would appear that the winner of that fight could make some ripples at the top of the division.

In other words, Silva has a path back to the title — if not right away, then later in the year — so long as Weidman isn’t the one holding the belt.

Ed Soares, Silva’s longtime manager and friend, said that he believes "The Spider" wants to prove his doubters wrong.

"At the end of the day that will be a decision the UFC makes," Soares told MMA Fighting recently. "But I believe…Anderson’s always told me, I don’t think I’m the best, I just believe I can do things that people think are impossible. And I think a lot of people right now are thinking Anderson Silva becoming the champion again is impossible. So I think that potentially motivated him. Just people doubting him has motivated him.

"But he’s happy right now. And I think that if Anderson wants to become a champion in his heart, I think that’s he’s the guy who can do it."

Between 2006, when he debuted brilliantly against Chris Leben, until 2013, when he lost to Weidman, Silva was widely considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. During that time he won a record 16 UFC fights in a row, defended the middleweight title 10 times, competed up a weight class at 205 three times (winning them all), and finished 14 of his foes.

Since losing his belt to Weidman at UFC 162 in 2013, Silva has had a rough time. He lost the rematch at UFC 168 later that year, fracturing his leg in the process. His return bout against Nick Diaz was successful, yet it was deemed a "no contest" after it was learned that Silva tested positive for banned substances.

After serving a suspension for the violation, the 40-year-old Silva is now past it, Soares said.

"At the end of the day we know what’s true and what it looked like," he said. "What it looked like and what happened wasn’t the deal. That’s irrelevant at this point right now."

Whether or not a title shot presents itself for Silva, Soares said Silva has the gleam back in his eye.

"I just know that Anderson’s motivated and happy right now and focused," he said. "A motivated, focused, happy Anderson, as crazy as it sounds…a happy Anderson is a dangerous Anderson inside the Octagon. I think Anderson is doing really well, and that he’s going to put on a great performance on Feb. 27."

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