Light heavyweight Thiago Silva will fight for the first time in more than a year this weekend when he faces rising star Alexander Gustafsson in the main event of UFC on Fuel 2. As most already know, his extended hiatus was not the result of an accident or injury but rather an intentional attempt to bypass the rules by doctoring his urine to mask steroid use. The lack of judgment resulted in a fine, an overturned victory, and a yearlong suspension in addition to the damage done to his reputation.
However, now that he’s done his time the 29-year old Brazilian is aiming to start fresh in every sense of the word. Not only did he utilize the mandated break from action to heal/strengthen his body but he also hopes his accountability for the drug use will provide a rare “second chance” in the eyes of fans and his peers.
“I did a lot of rehab and lifting weights to make my whole body stronger. I also did sparring, but not a lot. I allowed my body to heal during the time off, and I constantly have to work on my core so it won’t happen again. I have to listen to my body when I feel something is wrong,” said Silva in an interview with the UFC’s website, referring to the back problem influencing his decision to use steroids. The affliction became so bad at one point he even lost feeling in one of his legs.
The next step to putting the past behind him will come when he enters the Octagon on Saturday night in Sweden (afternoon Stateside). Though it’s been a long road, the payoff of a headlining tilt against Gustafsson seems to have been worth it for Silva.
“I was like a kid in a candy store,” he said of receiving the call from Zuffa headquarters. “I was very excited when they asked me if I wanted this fight, and I just wanted to fight as soon as possible. It didn’t matter who my opponent was, I just want to get back in the cage and fight.”
When it comes to actually throwing down Silva was unsure as to whether his opponents will approach him like the heavy-handed finisher of the past few years or a guy who relied on banned substances to flourish. He also doesn’t appear to care.
“I don’t worry about if guys respect me or not, but if they don’t, they will find out the hard way,” the 14-2 Silva stated blankly. Thirteen of his victories have involved some form of finish.
Fans can catch Silva’s scrap with Gustafsson tomorrow when the main card fires up at 3:00 PM EST. Prelims start on Facebook three hours earlier.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC