Anderson Silva would be right to choose family over fighting
When Anderson Silva fell to the floor clasping his broken leg just more than a year ago, it was hard to imagine in that moment that he would ever return to the sport of mixed martial arts.
In his mind, however, there was no other option.
Silva went into surgery later that night, and when he was wheeled into recovery, the first thing he asked the doctor was when he'd be able to train so he could fight again. Thirteen months later, Silva walked into the Octagon and earned a unanimous decision victory over Nick Diaz to cap off UFC 183, and in the process maybe finish out his historic career as the greatest fighter of all time.
After the victory, an emotional Silva fell to the floor, weeping tears of joy because through 19 UFC fights and 10 title defenses, no road was tougher than the one he traveled to get to his bout on Saturday night against Diaz. Silva endured months of rehabilitation to get back to the same physical state where he was at before, but only by coming back and winning did he truly achieve the emotional satisfaction and closure he needed after nearly having his career ripped away from him in 2013.
The weight of the moment only got heavier when Silva went to the back of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and placed a call to his family to talk to them after his fight. Silva got on with his 17-year-old son, Kalyl, and what happened next made the former middleweight champion truly question his future, maybe for the first time.
"When I finish I go back to the room and I call my family, and my son Kalyl said, 'Dad, congratulations, but done, back to home please, no more fighting.' This is my son. I need to talk to my family. I love my job. This is me. I love fighting but I need to talk to my family because this is more important in my life now," Silva said at the UFC 183 post-fight news conference.
"When I talked to my son, my son cried, 'Dad, stop, please, back home, please. You don't need to fight.' I need to talk to my family. I need to have a serious talk."
Silva has stated numerous times in the past that his family has asked him to stop fighting, but ultimately stood by his decision to keep going back for more. It seems now more than ever, Silva is ready to sit down and have a long talk with his family in a conversation that may very well end with him retiring from the sport and walking away forever.
And maybe it's time Silva finally listened to them.
In the history of MMA, the list of great fighters is long, but the ones who left with their hands held high in victory are few and far between. Out of the 11 fighters decorating the UFC of Hall of Fame, only one -- Forrest Griffin -- left the promotion on a win. While a few others have gone on to fight in other organizations, Griffin is also the only one to retire off a victory as well.
The sad truth is more fighters are forced out of the sport than those who leave willingly.
In Anderson Silva's case, he's already beaten the odds by coming back from a broken leg and done more than arguably any other fighter in the UFC has ever accomplished -- so what's left that's worth fighting for?
Silva doesn't need the money.
It's been well documented that he's been one of the highest-paid fighters on the UFC roster for years, not to mention having a slew of high-profile endorsements with companies such as Nike and Bud Light. Plus, even if Silva retired, the UFC would likely keep him on to promote shows in Brazil, host any number of events and maybe even give him some kind of executive title -- because who wouldn't want to follow directions from the best fighter there's ever been?
Silva doesn't need the accolades.
He already holds a laundry list of UFC records, and even if his title defense streak gets broken in the near future by Jon Jones, the chances he would reclaim the belt and then go on to add to his resume as champion at 39 years of age, with his 40th birthday just more than two months away, isn't likely anyway.
Silva doesn't need the adoration.
He's regarded as the greatest fighter of all time. He's the most popular fighter in his home country of Brazil. And never once during his entire career did he ever have an asterisk placed next to his name for something foul done outside the Octagon like using performance enhancing drugs or getting arrested.
Silva exorcized the demons left over from his last fight and proved once again that with heart and determination, anything's possible. It's not because Silva isn't good enough to compete anymore. It's because for once maybe one of our MMA legends should go out on top instead of being carried out on the bottom.
For Silva there's nothing left to prove, and we should all be proud to send him off into the sunset as the best to ever grace the Octagon and as the man who chose family over fighting -- because some things in life are just more important than MMA.