LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anderson Silva has undergone surgery on his broken left leg, and his doctor believes the former UFC middleweight champion could fight again after the grotesque injury.
Silva broke his tibia and fibula when he kicked the knee of 185-pound champion Chris Weidman on Saturday night, abruptly ending their rematch early in the second round at UFC 168 in Las Vegas.
Dr. Steven Sanders, the UFC’s orthopedic surgeon, put a titanium rod in the 38-year-old Silva’s leg during the hour-long surgery early Sunday morning. But even before Silva was taken in for surgery, he had fighting on his mind.
“In the pre-op area, his questions were: ‘When can I train? When can I train?'” Sanders said Monday.
Silva has repeated his questions during every meeting with Sanders since the surgery. Although it’s too early for firm dates, Sanders believes Silva’s broken leg will heal within the next six months, and the former champion could conceivably be back in the gym within 6-9 months of the injury.
Silva clearly hasn’t resigned himself to retirement after his second straight loss to Weidman following a near seven-year unbeaten run in the UFC. The Brazilian striking specialist is widely considered the greatest fighter in mixed martial arts history, setting UFC records with 16 consecutive wins and 10 straight title defenses.
“I have always indicated to him that he should be able to train,” Sanders said. “It’s important to be positive with your patient. Despite who Anderson is, he’s a patient who broke his leg and should first and foremost be treated in that condition.”
Silva’s leg bent horrifically when Weidman checked his kick with impressive technique, putting an unsettling end to arguably the UFC’s biggest event of the year. Silva left the cage strapped to a stretcher while screaming in pain, but Sanders praised the medical personnel at the MGM Grand Garden for swiftly stabilizing Silva’s leg, preventing further damage.
Sanders also was grateful Silva’s broken bones didn’t tear any major blood vessels or break the skin, which could have invited infection.
“In terms of the severity of the injury, it was fairly severe,” Sanders said. “But I can give examples of worse-case scenarios of what could have happened.”
Sanders expects Silva’s broken bones to regain their original strength, although the titanium rod could remain in Silva’s leg permanently. Silva may begin weight-bearing rehabilitation whenever the pain in his leg subsides.
Silva is resting with his family in Las Vegas, and is already trying to walk on crutches. He posted an old photo of himself with his wife and children to his Twitter account Sunday, giving thanks to his fans and saying he “will be better soon, now I need to be with my family.”
Weidman stopped Silva in the second round of their first bout in July, claiming the UFC title in just his 10th pro fight. Weidman expressed concern for Silva after the rematch, but also noted his defense of Silva’s kick was completely intentional.
“Last fight, the one thing that he really capitalized on was leg kicks, so probably the most important thing we focused on for this fight was stopping leg kicks,” Weidman said. “If I don’t put the knee on his shin, he’s going to kick me. He’s going to hurt me. That’s how you check a kick.”