Thiago Silva has been away from the Octagon for more than a year since having his license revoked by the Nevada State Athletic Commission following UFC 125, when the Brazilian light heavyweight admitted to altering his urine sample for a post-fight drug screen.
Thanks to the recent injury suffered by Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, the American Top Team representative will make his return in emphatic fashion, as he steps in to take on hometown favorite Alexander Gustafsson in the UFC on Fuel 2 main event in Stockholm, Sweden on April 15. In a recent interview with PVT, the Brazilian discussed that fight as well as the upcoming 205-pound title clash between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans on April 21.
Silva was dominant in taking a unanimous decision over Brandon Vera at UFC 125, but the result of the bout was changed to a no-contest after Silva admitted to altering his urine sample to mask injections he received in his back and spine that contained banned substances.
“I re-injured my back 45 days before the fight with Brandon Vera. After not fighting for a year, I made the decision to not pull out of the fight,” wrote Silva in a statement last April. “I also decided that the only way I could continue with the fight was to take injections in my back and spine that contained substances prohibited by the Nevada Athletic Commission. I also made the decision to use a product to hide the presence of these substances in a urine test.”
Silva was originally scheduled for a rematch with Vera at UFC on Fuel 3 on May 15, but “The Truth” was forced to pull out of the matchup after suffering an injury. Igor Prokrajac was then slated to step in against Silva before Nogueira’s injury created a need at the top of the April 15 card.
Despite multiple changes in prospective opponents, Silva is unfazed, though he admits to feeling some disappointment at not being able to face Vera.
"For me there is not much to change, but I actually wanted to get Brandon Vera because he talked a lot of nonsense,” Silva said. “He took a beating like a little girl and was crying afterwards. I think [this time] he broke a nail, so he couldn't fight. They offered the Croation [Prokrajac], then Nogueira was hurt -- I don't choose my opponents, so I accepted [the fight with Gustafsson]. I'm happy to be in the main fight of the night, and I will show why I should be there."
Though he has been out of action for more than a year, Silva believes that ring rust will not be a factor in his performance.
"I haven’t fought, but I didn’t stop [training]. I am 100 percent in full swing. I'm very excited; the anticipation is huge to fight again. I'm too hungry for a fight,” he said.
Known for his killer instinct in the cage, the Brazilian promises to return with the same style that has led him to 14 professional MMA wins, 11 via knockout or technical knockout.
"Anyone who knows me knows my style -- I don't like goofing off. I go there to finish the fight. I will continue to be aggressive,” he said.
The most difficult aspect of Silva’s NSAC-imposed hiatus was simply not being able to compete on a UFC card.
"The hardest part was that I couldn't fight,” he said. “I love what I do -- love to fight -- and to be prevented from doing what I like was very difficult for me. Now it's back giving my best and showing what I know."
When Silva last fought, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua was still the light heavyweight king. Since then, Jones defeated Rua at UFC 128 and has emerged as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport today. Now, Jones will defend his belt for the third time against Rashad Evans, a man who defeated Silva via unanimous decision in 2010.
"For me, Jon Jones is the guy to beat in the weight division. Rashad is a great fighter, but I don't particularly like his style. I think he is limited and lacks the technique of Jones. He (Jones) will keep the belt,” Silva said.
With only one win in his last four appearances, Silva will return to the Octagon hungry for the taste of victory. He hopes to entertain his supporters in the process.
"I would like to send a hug to all my fans in Brazil,” Silva said. “Thank you for trusting in my return. You can be assured that I will do everything to give a great show."