Earlier in the week, Anderson Silva, an MMA fighter with little left to accomplish in his historic career made it clear he was eyeing another run at the UFC middleweight title, claiming he had five or six fights left in him.
At that point, he hadn't won a match since 2012 (a 2015 win against Nick Diaz was overturned because of a positive drug test). Then came Saturday night at UFC 208 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
It took a couple of minutes for the action to get started, but Silva was able to press forward and get Brunson on his heals with a right hand A desperate Brunson went for a take down, but Silva was able to defend and fight free along the cage. At the end of the first round, Brunson was caught with a spinning back kick. Silva pursued and got the clinch, but Brunson landed upper cuts and hooks to fight it off.
Midway through the second round, Silva nailed a spinning back fist with a solid kick to the body, though Brunson did well to weather the damage. Silva began to display some of his vintage showmanship, but the effective strikes were lacking.
Brunson came out aggressively early in the third round, with Silva struggling to land anything to slow Brunson down. Brunson was keen to go for the take down and Silva did well to defend it, once nearly sinking in a standing guillotine. Silva eventually returned to try for the clinch, but like earlier in the bout, Brunson was able to do more damage than Silva.
While waiting for the judges score cards, Brunson and Silva sat on the mat, sharing some words, before standing up, both men raising their hands triumphantly in the air. Ultimately it was a unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27) for Silva.
This win sets up a potential middleweight title run, though Silva hinted at retirement in an emotional post-fight interview.
"I’ve been working hard for along time to fight here. I just put in my heart the whole time," Silva said. "Now I fight just to give a gift for everybody here. I know I’m too old for fighting.
"When I come inside the cage, all my life is inside the cage. I respect everybody in here."