- Brett Okamoto, ESPN Staff Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- Anderson Silva might never fight again.
What an absolutely depressing, awful thing to contemplate. A man who has been at the helm of so many memorable moments in UFC history might be finished at 38, thanks in no small part to a freakishly broken leg suffered on Saturday.
It’s not like I’ve spent hours of my life contemplating what the end of Silva’s career would look like -- but now that we might be there, I guess, yeah, I had some ideas. None of them involved him leaving on a stretcher, headed for the operating table.
This isn’t 100 percent the end of Silva’s fighting career -- in 2008, Corey Hill suffered a very similar injury in the UFC and he fought 13 months later -- but it should be. I would never put anything past Silva, but a full recovery at age 38 would be a task.
And seeing a 40-year-old, past-his-prime Silva attempt a comeback in 2016 would be even more depressing than witnessing the injury itself. No, I’d rather my last memory of Silva be the one I had right before that kick -- when I knew he lost the first round but there was still almost an expectation he’d find a way to win.
The one saving grace in this unfortunate (and most likely) end to Silva’s career is that the other fighter involved was Chris Weidman.
It wasn’t some random No. 1 contender who happened to perfectly check one leg kick. It was a fighter who, over the course of four rounds, proved he was better.
That’s the problem with the traditional, “passing of the torch” storyline. It’s a give/receive relationship. That’s not how professional sports are supposed to work. A contender wants what the champion has and the champion will do everything he can to keep it. There’s not supposed to be any “passing” involved.
And that’s what happened on Saturday. Looking back on the entirety of the Weidman/Silva fights, you actually get this feeling that Weidman got robbed. He knew he could beat Silva -- twice. He even wanted the second time to be in Brazil.
In fact, Weidman didn’t even look all that happy after the win -- both in the cage and at the post-fight news conference. Of course, seeing Silva suffer a severe leg injury will dampen the mood, but it also appeared Weidman was disappointed that a freak injury prevented him from another convincing finish of Silva.
Hopefully, history will be written correctly when it comes to these two fights. Silva did clown in the first meeting and it helped lead to a certain result, but he played it completely straight in the rematch and was dominated just as soundly.
Silva didn’t look old and he didn’t lack motivation. He wasn’t a former great on the decline. He was still Anderson Silva.
“I thought he looked great tonight,” Weidman said. “Physically, I thought he looked the best I’ve ever seen him.”
UFC female bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey told ESPN.com recently that her hope (and goal) is to retire undefeated and vacate the belt. That said, Rousey made it a point that she would want “her” belt to fall to someone deserving.
A broken leg injury on a checked kick was not how anyone wanted to see Silva go out. It’s downright tragic.
But how did we want to see him go out? The answer to that is probably that it didn’t really matter, as long as it felt like he lost to a better fighter, deserving of his title. At least on Saturday, despite the way it ended, Silva did indeed lose to the better man.