One of the greatest fighters in the history of mixed martial arts might have only one fight left.
Anderson Silva, the UFC’s former 10-time defending middleweight champion, told ESPN on Wednesday he is prepared for the possibility his next fight against Uriah Hall at UFC Fight Night on Oct. 31 will be the final bout of his career. The 45-year-old legend has been competing professionally since 1998.
“Maybe this is my last fight,” Silva said. “That’s why I’m training hard every day, doing my best. My whole team has come to help me. Everybody is in quarantine to start training. I’m very excited, because I think this is my last performance inside the cage, for my fans. We’ll see.”
UFC president Dana White also has stated he believes Silva will be done after Oct. 31. The 185-pound bout against Hall will headline UFC Fight Night, at a location to be determined.
“Yes, it will be his last fight,” White told reporters Tuesday.
Silva (34-10) is on the short list of fighters considered to be the greatest of all time. He held the UFC’s middleweight title from 2006 to 2013, and created multiple iconic moments in the Octagon. He has fought Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Forrest Griffin, Chael Sonnen, Vitor Belfort, Chris Weidman, Nick Diaz, Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier, among others.
Silva told ESPN he and his team pursued potential bouts against Conor McGregor and Anthony Pettis earlier this year, but neither materialized. The UFC’s preference for Silva was Hall (15-9). The two previously were scheduled to fight in 2016 in Brazil, until Silva was forced to withdraw because of surgery on his gallbladder.
The former champion admitted a perfect scenario would be reclaiming the title in his final fight and then riding off into the sunset — but acknowledged that’s unlikely, considering he has lost six of his past seven. Given the realistic options, Silva thanked the UFC and White for offering a meaningful matchup.
“The good story is Anderson Silva fights again for the belt and wins, and then is done — but that’s a script, you can’t do this in real life,” Silva said. “I’m excited to continue working, doing something special. This fight will help me create something huge inside my mind for my fans, my legacy.”