It’s tough for Anderson Silva to use the word retirement when he’s still not finished pursuing his combat sports career.
Regarded as one of the greatest UFC champions of all time, the 46-year-old Brazilian was released from the promotion following a TKO loss to Uriah Hall this past October. But at the time, he wasn’t quite ready to commit to the end of his MMA career.
Now, seven months later, Silva has reconciled with putting MMA behind him, though his combat sports career isn’t finished. He’s currently scheduled for a boxing match against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. on June 19 in Mexico.
Silva could comfortably retire without ever throwing another punch. But he’s still ready to chase a lifelong dream in boxing.
“I need to say something very important and the people think about that,” Silva told MMA Fighting. “I’m not fighting for trying to prove something for nobody. For anybody. I fight because I have a passion, because I love [it]. I feel the opportunity and the talent God gave me is for helping inspiring people.
“The problem in this sport, the people don’t respect the fighters, especially the old generation. I think everything I do for MMA is done. I’m happy but I’m not fighting anymore in MMA. Definitely not.”
Throughout his career with the UFC, Silva often talked about crossing over for a boxing match, including a long-rumored fight against former multi-division champion Roy Jones Jr.
That never came to fruition during his MMA career, but now that he’s left the UFC and no longer beholden to any promoter, he’s ready to do something just for himself.
“I fight [boxing] for many, many years ago, I fought amateur, I fought professional not this same level in boxing,” Silva explained. “I made it successful in another sport, muay Thai and MMA. Now everything I do inside the MMA world, I think I complete my mission. Me and my team and I put my heart and my whole passion inside this sport.
“Right now, I need to do something for myself because right now it’s something, I’m having fun. Of course, it’s a fight. It’s a real fight and I accept the challenge.”
While Silva has past experience in boxing with fights in 1998 and 2005, he knows that’s a far cry from taking on somebody like Chavez Jr., who has stood in the ring with fighters such as Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Daniel Jacobs.
As much fun as he’s having with just focusing on boxing, the former UFC middleweight champion is taking his training very seriously with every intention of getting the win on June 19.
“It’s very difficult – it’s not easy,” Silva said. “You need to train in using your mind more in the other sport. Because in MMA you can hold the guy, you can put [him] on the ground, you can kick, you can use an elbow but in boxing not. You need to take the good decisions, smart decisions and use your feet, use your hands to reflect, everything.
“It’s completely different. When you move incorrect, it’s done. When you put your hands down a little bit, you’re done. That’s why I try to learn every single day more specific movements in the technique.”
Of course, Silva has long considered a move to boxing, but he’s now joining a growing chorus of MMA fighters who have expressed interest in the sport.
Former UFC heavyweight champions Stipe Miocic and Junior dos Santos have flirted with the idea for years, and reigning heavyweight king Francis Ngannou engaged in a back-and-forth with Tyson Fury after he won the UFC title earlier this year.
Add to that, Ben Askren actually made the crossover to boxing but came up short after he was floored by YouTube star Jake Paul in a highly publicized fight. Former UFC champion Tyron Woodley has been pursuing that same matchup after his contract with the MMA promotion came to an end.
When it comes to Silva’s pursuits, he can’t say for certain what the future holds for his own boxing career, but he fully understands why so many MMA fighters are interested in the sport these days, especially with the attention people like Paul are receiving right now.
“Definitely not [easy],” Silva said about making the transition from MMA to boxing. “But I think the situation happened in the world with the coronavirus, changed the mind of people. Everybody thinks about more entertainment and people like to see the entertainment. People like to watch the entertainment. This is the new world.
“I’m so happy because this helps people think about your personal valor. This is good the real athletes and the real people working hard everyday for making a story successful in this sport. It doesn’t matter if it’s MMA or boxing.”