Only 13 months after a gruesome injury that appeared to end his legendary fighting career, former middleweight champion Anderson Silva will return to the UFC when he meets Nick Diaz in a middleweight bout in the main event of a Jan. 31 pay-per-view show in Las Vegas.
UFC president Dana White made the announcement on ESPN's SportsCenterat 3 p.m. PT, not long after telling Yahoo Sports via telephone he had nothing to announce. White said the deal with Silva was not finalized until 2:50 p.m. PT.
Ed Soares, Silva's manager, told Yahoo Sports he and Silva met with White in Beverly Hills, Calif., for lunch on Tuesday.
"As soon as we got out of the meeting, Anderson was like a little kid because he was so excited to be back," Soares said. "He's worked very hard to get to this point [where he's capable of returning]."
Diaz signed a new deal with the UFC last week that gives him eight fights remaining on his contract. When the controversial fighter ended a brief retirement to sign the extension last week, speculation quickly was raised about a fight with Silva. White, though, threw cold water on the deal, saying he hadn't spoken to Silva.
But the deal apparently came together quickly.
Silva broke his leg 1:16 into the second round of a rematch with Weidman for the middleweight title. Silva fired a kick with his left leg at Weidman, snapping it with great force. Weidman checked the kick and the bone-on-bone impact caused Silva to fracture both the tibia and the fibula.
Las Vegas-based orthopedic surgeon Steven Sanders performed the surgery, inserting an 11.5-milimeter titanium rod in Silva's leg.
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Sanders estimated at the time of the injury that it would be six-to-nine months before Silva would be able to train again. He returned much sooner, but wasn't cleared to return to competition until recently.
Silva will be 10 weeks from his 40th birthday at the time of the bout.
Soares, though, said he thought Silva would be as good as he ever was. He said the leg is stronger because of the rod that was implanted. He said Silva has looked incredibly good during his training.
"To be honest with you, I think he'll be back and what you'll see will be the Anderson of old," Soares said. "People worrying about the layoff or whatever, well, first of all, they've both been out quite a while, so there is no advantage for either guy there. But this is Anderson Silva we're talking about, not just any [nearly] 40-year-old. He's looked amazing and believe me when I tell you, this will be the Anderson everyone has been used to seeing."