Ahead of schedule: Anderson Silva cleared to train MMA less than five months after injury

Anderson Silva broke his leg just a little more than four months ago against Chris Weidman.

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Anderson Silva has been cleared to train and it isn’t even summer yet.

The former UFC middleweight champion — and arguably greatest MMA fighter ever — has been told by doctors he can return to the gym to train in mixed martial arts, his manager Ed Soares confirmed with FOX Sports on Tuesday. The story was first reported by MMA Junkie. Initial estimates had Silva returning to training in six-to-nine months, but we’re only a little over four months past the injury.

Silva, 39, famously broke his leg in gruesome fashion at UFC 168 on Dec. 28 against Chris Weidman. The Brazilian superstar went to kick Weidman with his left leg and Weidman checked the blow, using the bottom of his knee to stop the kick’s momentum. Silva’s tibia and fibula both snapped on impact. The legend fell to the canvas in a heap and cried out in pain, one of the most heartbreaking images in UFC history.

Silva was rushed to the hospital in Las Vegas and had emergency surgery. A steel rod was implanted into his tibia by UFC doctor Steven Sanders and it will remain there. At the time, Sanders said Silva could start training in "six-to-nine months," but he looks to be ahead of schedule. Silva has posted multiple videos on Instagram of him working out and even kicking during his recovery. UFC president Dana White said he was "like Wolverine" with his ability to uncanny ability to heal.

White has said repeatedly that Silva could return as early as the end of this year or the beginning of next. Silva prefers coming back in early 2015, but no timetable has been officially set yet, according to Soares.

When the injury happened, it seemed like Silva’s illustrious career could be over. And he wouldn’t have had anything to prove by coming back. No one has had more consecutive wins (16) or title defenses (10) in UFC history. Silva held the middleweight belt for seven years before losing it to Weidman last July.

White has said that Silva getting a rematch with Weidman right off his injury would be an ideal scenario, but it’s unlikely to happen. There is still time to hash out who could face Silva in his comeback bout, which is highly anticipated.

The UFC’s year-end show in December or its Super Bowl weekend card in February, both in Las Vegas, would both make a ton of sense for the comeback fight. But there’s also a chance of it happening in his native Brazil.