When Thiago Silva entered the octagon for the main event of UFC 108 against former light-heavyweight champion Rashad Evans, his record stood at 14-1. Further, he was widely considered one of the fiercest competitors on the UFC roster with 13 of his 14 wins coming via often-brutal finish. It was not out of the realm of possibility that a victory over Evans would catapult Silva to a UFC light heavyweight title shot.
That was not to be, however, as Evans picked up a unanimous decision victory. Silva was competitive, rocking Evans, and even taking a round on the judges’ score cards. He struggled with stamina, however, and was repeatedly taken down by the better wrestler on the way to defeat.
After a protracted absence due to injury, Silva returned to the octagon a year later at UFC 125 against Brandon Vera. The ferociousness that people had come to expect from the light heavyweight returned, and he steamrolled the shell-shocked Vera on the way to a decisive unanimous decision victory. Silva was in such control during the fight that he (in)famously decided to play the bongo drums on Vera’s back while the two were on the mat. It stood to reason that after such a dominant performance, Silva would be rocketed back into the title picture.
And that is where everything changed.
It was revealed shortly after the fight that Silva had failed a drug test for falsifying his urine sample, which likely explained the intense strength advantage over Vera he exhibited in the fight. As a result of the failure, Silva was suspended from competition for one year.
Upon his return, fighting for just the third time in three years, Silva met Alexander Gustafsson in the main event at UFC on Fuel TV 2. Silva’s conditioning appeared obviously deficient, and Gustafsson coasted to a unanimous decision victory. Whatever luster Silva still had leading into the fight was effectively wiped off by the Swede on that night.
Now we fast forward to UFC on Fuel TV 6, taking place this Saturday morning in Macau. Silva will be taking on relative unknown Stanislav Nedkov in light heavyweight action. While the bout is featured on the card, it is a far cry from headlining the UFC’s traditional new year’s pay per view against Evans. Instead of fighting for a title shot, Silva may be fighting for a job. If Silva is not able to get past Nedkov, or at the very least avoid the gas tank issues that have plagued him in recent fights, it is safe to say that his job is in jeopardy, having won just one fight since the middle of 2008.
Hopefully, Thiago Silva will enter the cage in good shape and be ready to go because, when at his best, he is a draw in the light heavyweight division and always good for an exciting scrap. While a win over Nedkov won’t have anyone calling for an imminent title shot, it would re-establish Silva as a threat in the division, and send him back of the ladder. Another loss, however, will likely send Silva packing from the UFC.