LAS VEGAS -- So, about that titanium metal rod in Anderson Silva’s leg …
All early signs indicate that Silva, 38, will attempt a comeback from the serious leg injury he suffered during a UFC middleweight title fight Dec. 28.
Silva (33-6) fractured the tibia and fibula bones in his left leg when his opponent, Chris Weidman, checked Silva's kick in the second round. He was rushed to immediate surgery, where a metal rod was inserted into his tibia bone.
That rod, 11.5 millimeters in diameter, will likely remain in Silva’s body the rest of his life. That prompted many fans to question whether or not the Brazilian might enjoy an unfair advantage -- basically, a metal weapon attached to his lower body.
According to Dr. Timothy Trainor, consulting physician to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, there is no such concern. If Silva was to seek a license to fight in Las Vegas, where he has fought four of his last six fights, the rod would not be an issue.
“To my knowledge, there are absolutely no scientific studies that have ever been done to prove someone gains an unfair advantage in any kind of sport after they have a metal rod inserted to a bone,” Trainor told ESPN.com.
“Can I tell you he can kick harder with that rod? Absolutely not. Do I think he can? No, I do not. The rod is in the middle of the hollow bone. It’s not going to change the force he kicks with. That’s still based on muscles.”
Trainor, an orthopedic surgeon, said the only “benefit” Silva might have is it would be very difficult for him to suffer the same injury with the rod in place.
In terms of impact during a kick, “the bone still absorbs that trauma,” Trainor said.
Ultimately, no orthopedic procedure exists that would concern Trainor in terms of providing a combat athlete an unfair advantage. Metal pins inserted into the hands of boxers or plates into the orbital area of a martial artist’s face are all included.
“The answer is no,” Trainor said. “You have to understand, the plates and screws being put on for something like that, they’re not very strong. What I mean by that is, in the operating room, I bend those plates with my hands.”
Should a future Silva opponent file a complaint on the rod, Trainor said he would advise the commission to license Silva anyway. The rod is designed to be removable, however it’s typically left in place unless a patient experiences complications.
“Essentially what we would require prior to approving Silva to fight again is a note from the treating orthopedic doctor, stating he’s healed the fracture,” Trainer said.
Dr. Steven Sanders, who performed the operation, estimated Silva could return to the gym within six to nine months.