Anderson Silva doubts that you’ve seen the last of him in MMA competition.
Since parting ways with the UFC in November 2020, Silva has dedicated himself to a boxing career, with recent wins over combat sports veterans Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Tito Ortiz. He next fights YouTube star Jake Paul on Oct. 29 in Glendale, Ariz.
Silva was asked Wednesday on The MMA Hour if his MMA days are truly over, and the 46-year-old answered that he had already discussed possibly fighting in Japan after his final UFC fight took place at the APEX in Las Vegas.
“When I did my last fight in the UFC, I talked to Japan about doing my last fight there,” Silva said. “Because it completely makes sense.
“My first title belt, I took in Japan, in Shooto. Maybe I fight in Japan, my last fight, to prove my respect for the people in Japan, for my fans in Japan too. We’ll see, I don’t know.”
Before his legendary championship run in the UFC, Silva was a standout fighter in Japan, capturing Shooto’s middleweight title in 2001 and later bringing his crowd-pleasing style to the famed PRIDE promotion. He last fought in Japan on the star-studded Pride FC: Shockwave 2004 event, a card that featured Fedor Emelianenko vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the main event, as well as appearances by Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, Takanori Gomi, Jens Pulver, Mirko Cro Cop, and Mark Hunt.
Given his history competing in the country, it’s understandable that it holds a special place in his heart.
“Probably my last fight is MMA,” Silva said. “I think probably my last fight is MMA in Japan.”
“I talked to RIZIN, I talked to the different companies there, make a show there. I don’t care about the [size of] the shows, big or not. Because when I started in Shooto, it was a small show, very good, and it made me so happy because at the time I just went there and did my best and I showed my respect for my country, to my masters, and to my academy. I feel I can do this again and finish this part of my life and not think about, ‘I think I go back to do something.’ No, when I’m done, I’m done. I just close the door. This is part of my past, thank you, and I’m out.”
Silva estimates that he’ll stop fighting before the age of 50, which gives him a few more years to explore various combat sports opportunities. He turns 48 next April.
Up next is his highly anticipated boxing clash with Paul, a bout that pits one of MMA’s most beloved icons against a social media darling that continues to draw resistance from dedicated fight fans. Silva downplayed the MMA vs. boxing angle, noting that it’s important for him to prove he belongs in a whole new realm of competition now.
“Everybody thinks I’m in this fight to represent the MMA community,” Silva said. “No, for me, it’s more than that. I think I need to show my respect for the boxing community. Of course, a lot of people are talking about, ‘You represent the MMA. You need to beat this guy.’ I say, guys, listen, fight is fight. I don’t go putting this in my mind because everybody has their own journey and my journey inside MMA stopped when I stopped fighting in the UFC.
“I don’t need to represent the MMA community anymore because the people know how I worked for the MMA community. Now I need to prove my respect for the boxing community, and that’s what I try to do.”
So far, Silva has received plenty of love from the boxing world. Following his decision win over Chavez Jr. in June 2021, he recalled boxing superstar Canelo Alvarez talking to him and signing his gloves.
“Canelo told me something very important,” Silva said. “‘Anderson, you proved why you are here and you have my respect.’ I try. Every day I try to do my best because boxing is a different sport, and when you have a legend, Canelo, come talk to you and say something very important, you start to feel that you need to respect and do your best more and more in boxing.”
Earlier this year, Silva criticized the UFC for doing a poor job of honoring the legacies of veteran fighters such as himself, but for now it appears he’s focused solely on closing out his career on a high note and making the most of his newfound career flexibility.
“The whole time I’m happy,” Silva said. “Every single time I’m training and I fight, I’m so happy because God gave me this present when I was born. Every day when I wake up, I just try to enjoy the energy, the power I have to continue doing something very special, something I love a lot. Of course, in different times I’m not so happy — because everybody knows why — but right now I’m in control of my own life and in my professional life inside combat sports. I can do anything and nobody can control, nobody can say, ‘You can’t do that. No, you don’t do that. You’re too old for that.’
“Of course, this makes me more happy because for many, many years I have a contract with the big company and I’m stuck [from] doing something more. But this is the past, now it’s about the future, it’s about my legacy, and I continue doing my best in boxing and in a different sport too. I think after this fight with Jake, I go to Dubai to start training jiu-jitsu with my jiu-jitsu coach Ramon Lemos, do the tournament, and I’m so excited to continue fighting, to continue putting my heart in training and testing myself, my mind, my body.”