Link to the article hereUFC light heavyweight Thiago Silva (14-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) is back in the gym and wants to fight this summer.
The Brazilian slugger today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com) that he's recovered from a serious back injury and returned to his flagship gym at American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla.
Silva said he had three herniated discs in his back three weeks prior to his most recent fight against Rashad Evans at UFC 108 and was nearly bedridden until the Jan. 2 main event.
Silva had the audience on the edge of its seat when he nearly knocked Evans out in the third round of the bout, but he eventually fell short on the judges' scorecards. Afterward, he went into an intense physical therapy regimen and stayed out of the gym.
In that time, he's learned a painful lesson: He can't take any more fights when he's hurt.
"When I needed the extra stamina, the extra gas, I didn't have (it) to finish the fight," Silva said through his translator and manager Fabiano Silva. "It's not a regret, but it was a big thing to learn."
In the weeks leading up to the event, which went down in history as one of the most injury-plagued fight cards in UFC history, Silva denied reports that he was fighting hurt. Privately, though, he admitted he was in bad shape.
In recovery, he worked to strengthen his hips and lower-back muscles, which had atrophied in his time off. He said the pain in the two areas made him unable to stop Evans' takedowns during the fight.
"I had to go through a lot of pain and suffering," Silva said of his physical therapy. "But thank god, everything works fine, and I just got cleared by the doctor last week. I'm back now."
Starting July 3, the date of the UFC's blockbuster summer card, UFC 116 with UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar vs. interim title-holder Shane Carwin, he's ready to fight.
"There’s a few names out there that are available because pretty much everybody is signed for fights," Silva said. "There are a few names now, but we can't say yet.
"We've already asked for two names from the UFC, so we're waiting to see how it's going to come out. But I'm only going to take a tough fight; no easy way. I want the top [fighters]."
One light heavyweight burning up the 205-pound ranks is Jon Jones. The up-and-comer decimated Brandon Vera eight days ago on March 21 and is poised for a top-tier opponent. UFC president Dana White said Jones is one year away from a title shot, but an opponent such as Silva—one of the few who's currently un-booked—appears to be a good fit in the interim.
Silva, however, disagrees.
"I think [Jones] is a wonderful fighter; he's doing a good job, putting on a good show," Silva said. "But I think he has to prove himself more to get the right to fight me. He’s doing fine, but he has to take a few more steps. I [want to] climb fast to the title shot, so I want people with the high ranking right now."
And Silva is prepared to wait for those fights.
"Money's not an issue right now, so I’m ready to wait to get the fight I want so I can work back to the top," he said. "A fight's a fight; you don't want to take risks.
"You want to beat the best so you can be the best.” Somewhere down the road, he wants to rematch Evans and light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, who defeated him by knockout this in a No. 1 contender's bout in January 2009 at UFC 94.
"Of course I want those fights because I think I have all the tools to beat those guys," Silva said. "Not taking anything from them. They are top level athletes, but I believe I can beat those guys."
Now, it's a matter of waiting to find out the name of the first opponent to welcome him back to the octagon.
For complete coverage of UFC 116, check out the UFC Events section of MMAjunkie.com.