Two hours after he heard that Jon Jones had been removed from Saturday’s UFC 200 main event against Daniel Cormier on Wednesday night, former middleweight champion Anderson Silva was on the phone to his manager, Ed Soares, letting him know that he was ready to step in to face the current light heavyweight king.
Consider that the 41-year-old Silva is less than two months removed from gall bladder surgery, had not gotten medicals done, and was fewer than two days away from having to weigh in at 206 pounds. It didn’t matter. This is Anderson Silva, and Anderson Silva has been known for making the impossible possible.
Cormier did have some other potential suitors, however, with UFC President Dana White telling the media Thursday night that Dan Henderson and Gegard Mousasi were also interested in facing “DC.” But it was Silva who was the first choice, and after a whirlwind of medical tests and commission requirements, he got the fight.
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“A lot of people got together and pulled this off,” said White, noting that Silva passed all his medicals with flying colors, setting the stage for a three-round non-title fight this weekend.
“I’ve gone through a lot of phases in my UFC career, and no one’s been able to beat everything that I’ve done,” Silva said. “So I really feel like I’m a blessed guy. I don’t think anyone’s going to be able to do what I’ve done. I’m just very happy to be able to come in and face a guy like Daniel Cormier.”
The longest reigning champion in UFC history, Silva has had his struggles since losing his 185-pound title to Chris Weidman in July 2013, most recently losing a close decision to Michael Bisping in February. But as White noted, at 205 pounds, Silva has barely been touched.
“I think it’s an interesting, fun fight,” White said of the matchup. “Anderson Silva is undefeated at 205, and not just undefeated, but devastatingly undefeated. Every time he’s moved up to 205, he looked even better than he did at ’85, which is crazy.”
Winner of UFC bouts over James Irvin, Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar at light heavyweight, Silva isn’t worried about the move up in weight.
“If I was worried, I wouldn’t be here tonight,” the Curitiba, Brazil native said. “A fight’s a fight and I’ve gone through a lot of bad things in my fights in the UFC, so anything can happen, but I’m prepared.”
But is he ready for a hungry world champion and former Olympic wrestler in Cormier?
“I think it’s going to be interesting,” Silva deadpanned. “I’m going to have to run from him a lot.”
Silva then laughed and looked at White.
“I’m joking boss,” he said. “I come to fight.”