The last time Thiago Silva stepped inside the Octagon, he put on one-half fantastic fight and one-half impressive musical performance.
His opponent was Brandon Vera, the once champion apparent of two different weight classes, and the Brazilian utterly dominated him before embarrassing the light heavyweight by playing bongos on his back. The grotesquely twisted nose "The Truth" sported post-fight didn't do much to help Vera's confidence either, I'm sure.
The loss was Vera's third in a row and earned him his walking papers. The win was Silva's first in a year after suffering a back injury which put him on the shelf since his UFC 108 loss to Rashad Evans. But one dirty urine sample later and the win for Silva and the loss for "The Truth" turned into a No Contest for both.
Vera got his job back and the Brazilian was handed a one year suspension and a hefty fine for trying to sneak past a drug test. In a statement, he claimed full responsibility and revealed he injured his back going into his UFC 125 bout with Vera but couldn't find it in himself to drop out of the fight.
Silva finally makes his return to the Octagon next Saturday (April 14) in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 2: Gustafsson vs. Silva against burgeoning light heavyweight prospect Alexander Gustafsson in the promotion's first foray into Sweden.
The UFC rolled into New Jersey in November 2007 for UFC 78. The main event was the disappointing match-up between Evans and Michael Bisping but everyone was more excited for the display of brutality expected to take place when Silva stepped inside the cage with Alexander. The Nebraska native burst onto the scene by putting Jardine and Alessio Sakara to sleep and the promise of another knockout was enough to get even the most hardened mixed martial arts (MMA) purist slobbering like the "Just Bleed" guy.
The bout begins with Alexander taking the center of the Octagon before clinching up with his opponent. They jockey around the length of the chain link before getting separated one minute into the round.
"The Assassin" again takes the center of the cage, forcing Silva to circle around. The Brazilian lands a quick jab and a leg kick, all the while making sure not to stay too long in one spot. Movement is key in his gameplan, stagnation will only bring about the vicious bombs which put Alexander's previous two opponent on the canvas. Silva throws a front kick which his opponent catches. Alexander begins hurling his wrecking ball-like fists towards his opponent and Silva answers with another clinch.
A man of unbelievable strength, Alexander is able to take Silva down with relative ease but the Brazilian stays calm and scrambles to his knees quickly while also latching onto one of his opponent's legs. Seconds later, it's "The Assassin" who finds himself on his back, victim of a takedown.
Silva lands in sidemount while his opponent foolishly wastes time and energy on a guillotine choke. Alexander is able to push the Brazilian back into half-guard but in a matter of moments, the Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) black belt has "The Assassin" fully mounted. Alexander does all he can to avoid the inevitable but vicious ground and pound rains down and forces the referee to step in.
Almost two years later at UFC 102, Silva was coming off the first loss of his career, a devastating knockout against Lyoto Machida. Looking to bounce back quickly and decisively, he was matched up against Keith Jardine, a man with a history of making great fighters look terrible. He also had a history of being wildly inconsistent. He followed up the two biggest wins of his career -- against Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell -- with brutal knockout losses -- against Alexander and Wanderlei Silva -- and could never string together enough wins to earn a title shot.
Both men meet in the center and it's Jardine who opens up first. A punch combination is thrown and followed up by a leg kick but soon Silva begins to walks his opponent down, forcing him towards the cage. Jardine circles around to avoid being trapped but the Brazilian keeps up the pressure.
Leg kicks from "The Dean of Mean" seems to be the gameplan his trainer Greg Jackson has put in place but in this instance, the "Yoda of MMA" has been out-gameplanned. It seems Silva and his American Top Team (ATT) crew expected this and Jardine's next kick is countered absolutely beautifully by Silva who swings his own leg around and trips his opponent. The goatee enthusiast drops to the canvas and the Brazilian follows him down.
They jockey for position on the mat, scrambling until both end up once again on their feet. Jardine remains aggressive in his stand-up but sticks to punches rather than avoid another takedown from a countered kick. He lunges forward with a head-body combination but Silva barrels a left hook with nasty intentions towards his opponent.
It catches Jardine and he drops immediately. Silva stands over the Greg Jackson product and grazes him with a right hand but the ensuing left forces Jardine limp. Another right lands before the referee is able to put a halt to the beating.
Savagery is almost guaranteed when Thiago Silva steps inside the ring. Will fans get another taste when he steps inside the Octagon with Gustafsson?