While it’s not official, a new report from ESPN suggests the UFC is looking to book an old guard vs. new guard battle between Anderson Silva and Israel Adesanya at UFC 234 next year.
Recently, surging UFC star Israel Adesanya spoke about having “a different plan” for his immediate future. The UFC had been talking about booking him as a backup for the Robert Whittaker vs. Kelvin Gastelum title fight at UFC 234. Adesanya, however, didn’t want to simply be a backup. He had other ideas. On Saturday, ESPN’s Brett Okamoto what slip what the plan might be: Anderson Silva.
If the fight comes to fruition, it will be Silva’s first trip to the octagon since UFC 208, where he earned a decision win over Derek Brunson. The former UFC middleweight champion, who many consider an all-time great, has struggled with drug test failures since his losses to Chris Weidman in 2013. Since then, he has fought sparingly, defeating Nick Diaz, only to have the result overturned due to testing positive for multiple banned substances with the NSAC. Silva (34–8 (1)) would return only to lose to Michael Bisping and Daniel Cormier (on nearly zero notice at UFC 200) before picking up the Brunson win. However, a planned fight at UFC Shanghai last year against Kelvin Gastelum was pulled when Silva failed a test with USADA.
With Silva once again eligible to fight, however, the UFC appears to be looking to book him against Adesanya, who many see as a potential heir apparent. ‘The Last Stylebender’ is a kickboxing standout who has decimated opponents thus far since he jumped to the UFC earlier this year. Four wins in four fights in 2018, with two stoppages and three Performance of the Night awards, paints the picture: Adesanya (15-0) is one of the hottest fighters in MMA.
UFC 234 takes place February 10, 2019 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The card is topped by the middleweight title fight between Whittaker and Gastelum.