Anderson Silva (33-6) is in the hospital today after undergoing surgery to repair the leg damaged in front of millions of fans at Saturday’s UFC 168. The Brazilian mixed-martial artist who has been so dominant in the middleweight division was the favorite in the rematch against champion Chris Weidman (11-0) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. Weidman took the title from Silva by knocking him out during UFC 162.
The injury accord in the second round as Silva attempted to deliver a leg kick to Weidman, only to have Weidman check the kick. Weidman’s defense and the angle of the attack resulted in the shocking image of Silva’s leg shattering just above the ankle. Checking a leg kick with the shin is a standard method of defending against a common mixed-martial arts attack.
Weidman put on a great performance during the first round of the contest, knocking Silva to the ground and punishing him with a ground and pound assault, something Silva fans are not used to seeing. Silva is known as an extremely elusive fighter, who uses his almost superhuman reflexes to dodge attacks at will. It was this showboating style that helped Weidman catch Silva with a knockout punch during the pair’s first meeting at UFC 162.
Silva fought through the first round of the bout, and was beginning to show some of his old flair in the early part of the second when the unthinkable occurred. The image of Silva’s ankle flopping around after the injury was grotesque, and the reaction of the crowd was visceral and immediate. Silva went down in obvious agony and was unable to continue the fight.
There is already rampant speculation in the mixed-martial arts community that Anderson Silva will never be able to fight again. A statement released by the UFC indicated that emergency reparative surgery performed in a Las Vegas hospital immediately after the fight was successful. A rod was placed into Silva’s tibia and his fibula was set in place. The recovery time could be anywhere from months to years, and it is unknown what the 38-year old fighter will be capable of following his rehabilitation.
UFC president Dana White has expressed sympathy for Silva, who is widely considered one of the greatest fighters in the history of the UFC organization, and mixed-martial arts as a whole. White was unwilling to speculate on the Brazilian’s possible future, although he did say that it would be a very tough injury to come back from.
Silva holds black belts in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, judo and taekwondo, as well as high-level training in Muay Thai kickboxing and Capoeira. He has also been trained professionally in Western-style boxing and wrestling. Silva began his career fighting in his native Brazil, and then proceeded to compete in the Pride and Cage Rage fight organizations before signing a contract with the UFC in 2006.
Silva fought in the UFC at both the middleweight and light heavyweight classes. He gained the middleweight championship by defeating Rich Franklin at UFC 64 on October 14, 2006.
Anderson Silva holds the record for the most consecutive title defenses in UFC history, with 10 consecutive belt defenses as part of a 16 fight win streak. He is ranked by Sherdog, ESPN, Yahoo! Sports and other organizations as the Number One pound-for-pound fighter in the world. Fans around the world will be waiting for more information on Silva’s recovery in the hospital and his future with the UFC.
By Mark Clarke