Maintaining relevance and composure in today's mixed martial arts is a very tricky pony for usually unflappable veterans.
Whether it's the always troubling crisis of maintaining health, or fending off relentless hoards of young hungry hyenas, the sport's established athletes are always aiming to keep balance.
But sometimes, and this doesn't happen too often, a legendary fighter will lose his footing. Not in the sense of a divisional ladder or the battle against father time, but instead his motivation and ability to envision purpose.
This is exactly what former UFC middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva seemed to be experiencing entering his rematch with Chris Weidman back in December at UFC 168.
Now while the Brazilian's state of mind before that fight might have been in a crucial state of uncertainty, not even Silva himself could have predicted that a second-round leg kick would result in a bone-snapping fashion.
It's something that carries such rarity in today's sport—especially when it concerns a prolific superstar of Silva's caliber—that it remains unfathomable.
With that said, to stay in touch with one of the most overused and popularized mantras in human history, Silva's injury could be a blessing in disguise. One that may very well refuel and rearrange the meaning of professional competition for arguably the greatest champion in MMA history.
For most aging veterans like Silva, a grotesque broken leg would certainly lend a hand in retirement. Most fighters don't come back from that—that's why "The Spider" is ultimately a different breed of animal.
Just months removed from of one of the worst injuries in Octagon history, the 38-year-old Silva seems to be rejuvenated with soaring spirits. So much so that his training and physical preparation for a comeback have superseded any doubts over his overall fighting capabilities upon his inevitable return.
(Twitter translation: "I'm coming back.")
It hasn't even crossed people's minds as to how effective the former champion will be when he again steps foot inside of a cage. To them, Silva's return is simply enough. His ability to comeback from such an egregious dismissal is the only thing that matters.
Can you blame them?
But as heroic and courageous as a comeback would be, will Silva be motivated enough to prolong his desire to add to an already ironclad resume?
In all likeliness, yes.
Sometimes it takes an act of pure disaster and destruction for someone to understand what they need to do. Sometimes it takes a career-threatening injury to inject a youthful edge into an old body. Sometimes a guy like Silva needs to come back down to earth before he can again fly.
As arguably the most prolific mixed martial artist of all time, Silva always seemed to rise to the occasion. His championship defenses never seemed to possess a cause for concern. Instead, his dynamic ability to get into the mind of his opponent and destroy them with brutal superiority proved to be a catalyst for perfection.
But as untouchable as Silva seemed, the life of being a champion ultimately caught up to him. At times his actions within the media and within the cage opened eyes as to whether or not he was taking his job seriously. Remember, it was his lack of respect for Chris Weidman the first time around that ended his seven-year reign as an MMA god.
That defeat allowed Silva to collect his thoughts, rethink his goals and understand what he needed to do. Luckily for us, retirement wasn't part of the plan.
But even leading up to his rematch with Weidman, he seemed somewhat uncertain as to whether or not he could conquer his own demons. It was the first time ever that we saw Silva take a knee in the tunnel leading out to the Octagon and attempt to put his mind in the right place.
He didn't try to clown Weidman the second time around, and maybe he was as focused as he could have been, but it still felt like something was off. That was until he snapped his left leg from a checked kick and tasted ultimate peril.
With all of that said, Silva has never looked more excited to regain his divisional footing and make a run at the title. He has never looked more eager to get back into the cage and display the elite skills we've grown accustomed to over the the years.
For him, a comeback isn't just a comeback. It's redemption. An opportunity to not only prove to his peers that he's still one of the best middleweights on the planet, but more so the chance to prove to himself that this is still what he wants.
And from the outside looking in, it seems as if a return to the UFC is exactly what the immortal veteran wants.
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