Anderson Silva celebrates his 41st birthday this month. As far as presents go, he says he already got what he wanted: the quickest turnaround of his UFC career.
Silva (33-7) is scheduled to fight Uriah Hall at UFC 197 on May 14 in Curitiba, Brazil. The date is just 80 days removed from Silva's last appearance in the Octagon, a five-round decision loss to Michael Bisping on Feb. 27.
Perhaps Silva is trying to make up for lost time, as he has been limited to two fights in the past 27 months due to a devastating leg injury and a one-year drug suspension. The former middleweight champion and all-time great said requesting a spot on the Brazilian event, which takes place at Baixada da Arena soccer stadium, was a no-brainer. His love for martial arts was born in Curitiba, when he first walked into a gym at 8 years old.
"I am looking good. I feel like I'm 22," Silva told ESPN.com through a translator. "This was a surprise for me to be on this card, it was a birthday present. I'm very happy to be on this card, fighting in front of my hometown."
Although officially winless in his past four fights, Silva doesn't look finished in the Octagon just yet. His recent loss in London was a strange affair, as Silva thought he knocked Bisping out at the end of the third round with a flying knee. Bisping crumpled to the mat as the round ended and Silva leapt onto the cage wall in celebration.
Referee Herb Dean never stopped the bout, however, and eventually Silva was pulled down from the cage and the middleweight fight continued. Bisping came back to win a crucial fourth round on all three judges' cards.
Many felt if Silva had just been slightly more aggressive, he could have either finished Bisping or at least won the final two rounds. Silva, who felt he should have won the fight, said he had no regrets about the loss.
"I give him merit for winning, but I take merit away from the judges for judging it that way," Silva said. "I was very happy with how I performed. I showed everyone my technique and superiority.
"I really don't watch out for critics of my fights because I'm the one who's going in there and fighting. It's easy for you to watch a fight and say a guy could have done this or that, but watching a fight and then going out there and stepping in is completely different. It takes someone to actually step in there and take a few shots to realize that."
Silva, who plans to prepare for the fight at X Gym in Rio de Janeiro, is asking for rematches against Bisping, as well as Nick Diaz (26-9). He fought Diaz in January 2015 and won via unanimous decision, but the result was later changed to a no-contest after Silva tested positive for multiple banned substances.
Silva's fight in May will mark his 21st appearance in the Octagon -- and he claims to be far from the end of his career. When asked if this could possibly mark his final fight in his native Brazil, Silva responded incredulously.
"What? No, no, no," Silva said. "I hope there are many more."