Former longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has been allowed to resume full-contact training in the gym, but his return to the Octagon is probably still a ways off.
The surgeon who repaired Silva's badly broken left leg after a UFC 168 loss to Chris Weidman in December, Dr. Marcio Tannure, told MMA Fighting's Guilherme Cruz that "The Spider" is ready to resume sparring, and his return date will be determined based on how well that goes:
His recovery was great, but now we have to work on his mind and get rid of the mental block...It would be really hard to say right now he can or can’t fight this year. It’s not the moment, and he’s the one that is going to feel it. He has to start slowly. It still is really hard for him to work on that. He feels unsafe now, maybe sees some images on his head, so we can’t demand too much from him right now. That’s the toughest barrier to overcome. He will only lose this fear with training...
Heading into his UFC 162 title bout against Weidman, Silva had won an incredible 17 straight bouts (15 finishes) and had already set the UFC record with 10 consecutive belt defenses.
However, things did not go as planned for the legendary Brazilian competitor on that fateful July evening last year. He suffered the first knockout of his career at the hands of "The All-American."
While a good number of pundits wrote off the loss as Silva's ego getting the best of him due to excessive taunting and showboating, getting knocked out cold probably would have been preferred to the way the rematch ended.
In the second round of the UFC 168 championship matchup, Silva threw a hard leg kick that Weidman checked, causing Silva's leg to instantly break when it connected with the champ's knee.
Silva has been in recovery mode ever since, receiving surgery that same day late last year, but he has been making progress at an accelerated rate.
The 39-year-old's camp maintains that he will most likely return in early 2015, with manager Ed Soares considering Nick Diaz, Cung Le or Michael Bisping as opponents for his return fight, per MMA Fighting's Shaun Al-Shatti.
Upon his return, will Silva be an instant title contender at 185 pounds, or will we see a slower, more tentative version of the enigmatic fighter as a result of the serious leg injury he suffered in December?