Commentary

Silva can still fight, but should he?

Originally Published: February 2, 2015
By Brett Okamoto | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- It seems entirely unlikely to me that Saturday at UFC 183, "that time Nick Diaz lay down as if sunbathing on a beach despite actually being in the middle of a fight," was the last time we'll see Anderson Silva compete.

There are too many reasons for him to keep going. Too much money to be made and too many fibers in Silva's being, likely telling him that recapturing the middleweight title is within his grasp.

But when Silva awkwardly ended his postfight news conference at the MGM Grand by (poorly) impersonating Dana White and giggling "bye" as he left the podium, I kind of hoped it was the last time we'd see him.

It's impossible to predict how any professional fighter's last night will go -- but a good bet is that will involve a loss. The vast majority of combat athletes need someone to push them out the door. Many don't get it soon enough.

The middleweight fight on Saturday between Silva (34-6) and Diaz was a weird, awkward, hard-to-describe event. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who would claim the best version of either fighter was present for it.

But it clearly meant the world to Silva, who gleefully scaled the Octagon wall when the fight was over and fell to his back in tears when his inevitable decision victory was officially read. The night, though awkward, had a positive vibe.

There were video clips of fellow great athletes -- Jon Jones, Conor McGregor, Roy Jones and Charles Barkley -- dancing it up cageside. There to see Diaz, for sure, but mostly for Silva.

Whereas UFC 168 on Dec. 28, 2013 (the night Silva broke his left leg) felt like Silva's funeral, UFC 183 on Jan. 31, 2015 felt like it could be his going-away party. Congrats! You did it!! Enjoy the next ride!

Don't get me wrong. Silva can still fight, and there are still victories out there if he chooses to continue (again, as I expect him to do).

I thought UFC president Dana White was pretty accurate in his assessment of Silva's performance on Saturday -- that it was not your typical Silva, but that was to be expected. He'll look better next time, minus the layoff. Certainly, he did not look washed up.

"I thought he looked physically good tonight," White told ESPN.com. "After what he went through, that injury and coming back after a year, you knew you weren't going to see the Anderson you remembered. But getting five rounds in, more mentally confident in the leg and all the other things, we'll be able to tell [where he's at] in his next performance.

"You saw little hints of the old Anderson when he started to move. It was almost like he was tentative tonight. It wasn't that he didn't have it, it was that he was tentative."

Thing is, I don't want Silva to postpone retirement until he doesn't "have it."

[+] EnlargeAnderson Silva
Ed Mulholland for ESPNAnderson Silva proved he still has "it" -- but should he keep going until he doesn't?

Neither does his family. At the postfight news conference, Silva emotionally relayed stories of his 17-year-old son, Kalyl, begging him after every fight to please let it be his final one. His family, obviously, sees Silva more as a human being than a supernatural athlete, as the rest of us do. They are far more aware of the reality that if Silva continues to step into a cage, he will eventually do so as someone who doesn't "have it" anymore.

If Silva, 39, does compete again, there is only one opponent I would want to see him face: former UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

A fight that probably never made sense during all those years it was discussed is now the only fight I could get behind for Silva. Quite frankly, I'd be happy to see both announce their respective retirements tomorrow, but if the two legends want to fight, I am for it being against each other. One last celebration (and enormous payday) to send them into retirement.

There is no part of me that wants to see Silva pursue a third fight against current champion Chris Weidman. If we're being honest, I am afraid that would end poorly for Silva.

Of course, this is all just one writer's opinion. Silva has lost a grand total of two fights in nearly nine years. Even though he'll turn 40 this year, he has every right to jump back into the title hunt if he so chooses.

Just saying, as far as final chapters in cage fighting go, Silva could do worse than the one he wrote last weekend. And with that, here are fighter grades from UFC 183.

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