Like any great athlete with a long career, Anderson Silva and his team seem to enjoy toying with the hearts of fans with coy, contradictory talk about when the 37-year-old champ will retire. After originally threatening to retire at age 35, the Spider has had everyone from his boss to his manager opine since then about how long the UFC middleweight legend could and would possibly stay in the fight game he’s dominated since 2006. And now, Silva has gone on record himself with Estadao, saying that he’d like to fight for six more years, until he’s 43.
“I guess you can see more like six years of fighting,” Silva told Estadao. “I love what I do. The team that works with me does a fantastic job. I’ve never had a serious injury that took myself away from competition. So I think I have this a little while longer.”
Well, shit. Maybe Silva isn’t as aloof and carefree as we sometimes think. He’s one of the most financially successful MMA fighters in history and could conceivably go out on top in the next year or two, especially if he books that history-making super-fight with Georges St. Pierre. So it’s a bit surprising to see Anderson say that he loves the sport so much that he doesn’t want to leave it for some time. Maybe he’s going to take care of that unfinished Demian Maia and Thales Leites business. Or maybe he’ll get around to fighting Chris Weidman, before Weidman himself turns 43.
Either way, this could be good news for fight fans. Silva is the MMA G.O.A.T. now — sorry, 2005 Fedor fan-club members and flat-earthers — and other than one pretty good beating from Chael Sonnen, he really hasn’t appeared to take much damage in fights, so maybe he could stick around effectively into his forties. Then again, most damage happens in the gym, and as a former member of the Chute Boxe team, we know he’s seen his share of nasty, head-trauma-causing battles, even if they didn’t all take place in front of a paying crowd.
Silva is also a counter-striker, and relies heavily on combining an amazing sense of range with lightning reflexes. Fighters never know when those start to slip, but when quick counter-strikers begin to lose their speed, they can decline quickly and dramatically.
What do you think, ‘taters? If Silva is truly interested in fighting on into middle age, do you think he can stay dominant until he finally decides to retire, or will time catch up with him?