Brazilian news sources reported that longtime middleweight champion Anderson Silva will make his return in March of next year, facing old foe (and fellow Brazilian MMA legend) Vitor Belfort at UFC 197.
The UFC has not confirmed the story.
Silva’s suspension for banned substances ends January 31. In his last Octagon appearance in January of this year, he earned a decision victory over Nick Diaz — but tested positive for anabolic steroids. The result was switched to a no-contest, and Silva was suspended for a year retroactive to the bout.
The bout would be a new start for Silva, 40, who was the most dominant champion in the promotion’s history, winning ten straight defenses of his middleweight title. He also enjoyed the longest win streak in UFC history, with 16.
One of his most memorable defenses was in February 2011, against Belfort. After a brief feeling-out process, Silva scored a fight-ending front kick to the chin — earning a first round knockout against the former light heavyweight champion.
But in recent year, two losses to current titlist Chris Weidman and a horrific leg injury stopped his momentum — and left many calling for his retirement.
The 38 year old Belfort fought earlier this month in Brazil, knocking out another old legend of the sport in Dan Henderson at a UFC Fight Night event.