Brazilian returns after yearlong suspension, meets Gustafsson in Sweden
When the eyes of the MMA world turn their focus to Stockholm, Sweden, Saturday for the UFC’s second venture on Fuel TV, Thiago Silva will be standing front and center.
The Brazilian powerhouse returns from a yearlong suspension for failing a post-fight drug test at UFC 125 and immediately will jump back into the fire as he squares off with Swedish prospect Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV: Gustafsson vs. Silva.
Silva, a fighter known for his aggressive style, will attempt to find an answer to Gustafsson’s range as he looks to get his career back on track after the lengthy layoff. With so many questions circling the American Top Team product, the only way to silence his critics will be to emerge victorious – which is what he believes will happen when the two fighters lock up on Saturday night.
“Fans are going to see a different Thiago Silva,” Silva told HeavyMMA. “I’m going to be 10 times more aggressive, and I’m finally healthy. Of course, we have to be prepared to go the distance, but I’m going to be looking to finish this fight as quickly as possible. I’m looking for the stoppage.”
In the world of combat sports, there is little argument to the existence of “ring rust.” The bigger question seems to be how much the time away will affect the fighter, and while there have been many examples of this phenomenon being a detriment to a fighter’s performance, Silva chooses to look at the issue from a different perspective.
“I haven’t looked at my time off as a reason to be concerned, but more as time to allow my body to heal,” Silva said. “I’m back and 100 percent healthy. I took this time off to fix my body. I had been doing a lot of therapy and I was able to do more of it during the layoff. The time off allowed me to fix my back.
“Everybody knows my style. I come to fight, and I’m very aggressive. I haven’t fought in a year, but that will not change the fighter I am. I think I’m the best I’ve ever been.”
In the year Silva has been out of the light heavyweight mix, the division has undergone a shakeup of sorts, due in large part to the dominance of champion Jon Jones. Where 205 pounds was once the most prominent and deepest weight class under the UFC banner, these days the list of possible contenders has grown slim. With this being the case, the winner of Saturday’s bout between Silva and Gustafsson will most likely be on the short list of future contenders.
“I think a win over Gustafsson definitely puts me in the title picture,” Silva said. “I think I’m a tough guy, and I’m here to prove myself. I can’t just sit here and say I’m ready and prepared to be the champ. That’s not who I am. I’m here to prove myself and put on a great fight. If the UFC gives me the opportunity, of course I’m going accept it.”
When Thiago Silva enters the Octagon on Saturday, he will be fighting more than just Alexander Gustafsson. With the failed drug test hanging over his head and the rangy Swede standing between him and a future title shot, somehow Silva remains calm and collected.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” Silva said. “I’m a fighter who likes to fight hard. That’s my style, and I’m going to keep it. I feel my best when I compete that way. I feel like I have something to prove and that is what I’m here to do.”