Nogueira brothers stopped Anderson Silva from retiring before 'The Spider' signed with UFC

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Anderson Silva is widely-regarded as the greatest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter of all time. But it's a career that would have ended prematurely, had it not been for the foresight of two of his popular Brazilian friends and teammates.

Rich Franklin must despise the Nogueira brothers.

If not for their interference, reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva might have retired before ever stepping foot inside the Octagon, where he demolished "Ace" in just his second fight under the ZUFFA banner.

"The Spider" explains to UFC Tonight:

"The Nogueira brothers are part of my family. I love these guys because they help me stay together with my dream, because one day I talked to Rogerio and Rodrigo and say, 'No more fight, bro.' The time Rogerio and Rodrigo talk to me, I no have nothing. My dream was lost. Rodrigo talked to me and said 'Hey, come to my house, I will help you. Don't worry. Come to here, train together.' I finished my contract in PRIDE. I broke the team. I go ... the guys talk to me, 'Hey, you no fight more in PRIDE.' What? I fight in PRIDE, a good fight. I had no problem with PRIDE, but Rodrigo help me for better fights. I love Rodrigo. I love Rogerio. This is my family."

Silva left PRIDE after tapping to Ryo Chonan by way of insane flying scissor heel hook.

He made a handful of appearances on the regional circuit before finally making his UFC debut against The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 1 standout Chris Leben, who promised to send the Brazilian back to Japan "where the competition is a little easier."

That was 16 fights ago and he hasn't lost since.

So, how would you rewrite the history books if "The Spider" called it a career in 2006? Would UFC have such a strong presence in Brazil? Anyone imagining Chael Sonnen as 185-pound champion?

And would we have ever used the term "super fight?"

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