Anderson Silva’s not the fighter he used to be. And he knows it.
But the longest reigning champion in UFC history is still capable of competing in the Octagon, even if he isn’t the fighter who once dominated the middleweight division for 7-1/2 years.
After earning a debatable unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) over Derek Brunson in the co-feature bout of UFC 208 on Saturday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, an emotional Silva, who turns 42 in two months, broke down in tears.
“I know I am too old for fight,” said Silva (34-8, 1 NC), who won for the first time since Oct. 2012. “All the guys here too fast for me, strong, but I put in my heart, because fighting is in my heart.”
Brunson, who was coming off a brutal knockout lost to Robert Whittaker in his last fight, seemed overly wary in the early going. Silva, for his part, also got off to a slow start. But Brunson did his best work throughout the fight in the clinch, as he managed to neutralize Silva along the fence and score with dirty boxing. Silva missed with a flying knee late and Brunson landed on top to close the round.
In the second, Silva seemed the clear-cut winner, as he sprawled several attempted takedowns and showed flashes of his old magic. Silva dropped his hands on several occasions and attempted several spinning strikes, including a spinning back kick which connected.
Both fighters appeared to tire in the third round, but a Brunson takedown in the final two minutes seemed to make the difference, as he stayed in top position for the remainder of the round.
“When I come here, when I come inside his cage, I put in all my life, I respect everybody here, UFC fans, I just, now I just come to fight happy because I love my job, I love UFC, for long time my dream fighting here in New York. I don’t believe this, thank you.”
Silva got back in the win column after a five-fight stretch with four losses and a no-contest; Brunson (16-5) lost for the second straight fight.