Anderson Silva turned 45 this week, but the oldest fighter in the UFC roster actually came close to retiring from the sport as middleweight champion in 2012.
“The Spider” was coming off a light heavyweight win over Stephan Bonnar in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and decided to hang up his gloves. Before the UFC even approached him with the idea of defending his 185-pound championship against Chris Weidman, Silva says he made up his mind about not competing again.
The veteran fighter said during an interview with the UFC that Dana White and Lorenzo Fertitta invited him for a meeting in Las Vegas in late-2012. When he got there accompanied by his managers Jorge Guimaraes and Ed Soares, Silva informed the promotion he wasn’t interested in entering the Octagon again.
“I want to stop, I want a time for myself, to stay with my family,” Silva says he told White and Fertitta at the time. “I have been doing this for years and I’m losing contact with my kids. I’m only training and training, it’s not working for me anymore.”
Silva’s managers were also caught surprised by his decision, the fighter says, but he was adamant.
Shortly after, White and Fertitta rewarded the middleweight champion with a brand new Bentley Continental GT, priced $174,000 in Dec. 2012, and “The Spider” wondered if that was an attempt to “buy him off” and agree to fight again.
“The Spider” eventually changed his mind about retirement, agreeing to defend his belt against undefeated middleweight prospect Chris Weidman in July 2013.
“But one day before I started my camp to fight Weidman, I already was too saturated,” Silva said. “I never talked about this, never used this term ‘if I win.’ I said to [my wife], ‘If I win, I’ll stop, I won’t fight anymore.’”
According to the UFC superstar, Dayane Silva gave him one simple advice: “Stop talking about it. Stop talking.”
Silva and Weidman met for the undisputed UFC middleweight crown in the main event of UFC 162 on July 6, 2013. “All American” knocked him out in the second round to shocked the MMA world.
“It was a group of things, many things led to my loss to happen that way,” Silva said. “Weidman had all the merits and won, he won well, but that’s what happened.”
The legendary mixed martial artist was given an immediate rematch five months later, in the main event of UFC 168, and guarantees he was “100 percent focused in the fight,” but still planned on retiring if he had reclaimed the throne that night.
“I would have stopped if I had won the fight, I wouldn’t fight anymore, but I ended up breaking my leg,” Silva said. “I think that was a message from God saying to me, ‘Look, man, you’re not supposed to stop yet. It took so long for you to get here and now you want to stop?’ I don’t know, I think those are subliminal messages that stay in your head.”
Silva returned to the cage after a long recovery process to face Nick Diaz in Jan. 2015, but had his decision win overturned after both fighters failed drug tests. “The Spider” racked up a 1-4 record since then with a win over Derek Brunson sandwiched between losses to Michael Bisping, Daniel Cormier, Israel Adesanya and Jared Cannonier.