It was one of the worst scenes one could imagine for a fighter: Anderson Silva on the floor, screaming in pain after a checked kick saw his left leg snapped at the shin.
The limb in question flopped freely about like a fish on a chain before Silva fell to the mat. From there, the end was academic.
The sheer pain Silva went through at that moment cannot be rightly imagined.
Now, 45 days later, Silva's rehab program is moving along quickly and he is declaring that he wants to come back and fight, but first he wants a boxing match with Roy Jones Jr (h/t Guilherme Cruz of MMAfighting.com). Further, Fox Sports' Marc Raimondi tweeted that Dana White has said he expects Silva to fight before 2014 comes to an end.
The fact that Silva can walk down a flight of stairs without crutches or a cast is more than most dared hope. His injury saw his lower leg flopping around like a segmented sausage; the only thing that could have been worse would be a compound fracture.
To think he would be walking in under 60 days is shocking. But amid all this progress, one wonders why Silva is pushing himself so hard so soon.
If Silva steps into the Octagon in September, for instance, his leg is going to be under serious pressure given his style of fighting. Much of Silva’s game is based on his legs—specifically, his kicks.
Is Silva going to be shy throwing leg kicks? Given how fast he has pushed himself back into competition, shouldn’t he be?
Obviously, we all want to see him back. But is sooner really better than later?
Make no mistake about it: Should Silva injure that leg again in the same place, his career is officially over. With his future on the line, it seems like taking some extra time would be better for the long term.
Rushing back into the Octagon in some ways seems like an attempt to erase that horrible night from Silva's mind and the minds of the public. If he can hop right back in far more quickly than most expected, maybe he can restore his superhuman image.
The bad news is that the break Silva sustained was not cosmetic; it was through and through, as deep as it gets.
Running back into training and fighting seems like a desperate attempt to disarm a bomb that has already gone off; that Silva was a casualty is not a matter of opinion or perception but a medical fact.
The chances of Silva recovering are excellent. He’s in great shape, and he’s still young enough that a full recovery can occur—but recovery takes place at its own rate and won’t be rushed.
Given that Silva’s passion to get right back to fighting is so clear, he might find doctors to capitulate. If he’s already talked himself into feeling better than ever, that is going to come through, and doctors do take that into account.
But all future opponents of Silva are going to attempt to check Silva’s leg kicks with the same destructive result Chris Weidman had. Silva cannot afford to let that possibility limit his game; to do so is to give his opponents an advantage based on a limited offense.
For that reason alone, he should take the extra time needed to make sure his bone is as strong as possible. Waiting an extra three to six months isn’t going to hurt his standing, while jumping back in too quickly could see him lose all.
Silva has always been a poised and patient fighter; those qualities served him well in the cage and could serve him well again in this decision.
He has nothing to lose by waiting and everything to lose by rushing in. His legacy is secure, and we would happily wait for him.