Anderson ?Spider? Silva rescued UFC 200 when he agreed to fight light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier two days after Jon Jones tested positive for a banned substance. Now Silva is saving UFC 208, lending his legendary name to an otherwise underwhelming pay-per-view card Saturday night at Barclays Center.
Holly Holm, loser of two straight since her stunning knockout of Ronda Rousey, faces Germaine de Randamie of the Netherlands for the first-ever women?s 145-pound championship in the main event.
Silva takes on Derek Brunson of Wilmington, N.C., in the co-feature. For local flavor, lightweight contender Jim Miller of Sparta, N.J., fights on the main card against Dustin Poirer. Otherwise, the overall lineup pales in comparison to UFC 205 held at the Garden in November.
That was the first mixed martial arts card held in New York since legislation was passed last March to legalize the sport. Conor McGregor headlined that card with a supporting cast that included strawweight champ Joanna Jedrzejczyk, welterweight champ Tyron Woodley and former champs Frankie Edgar and Chris Weidman.
UFC 208 first took a hit when a proposed UFC lightweight title fight between two-time champion Jose Aldo and interim champ Max Holloway fell apart because of injuries, then some ticket holders weren?t happy when a previously scheduled heavyweight bout between Derrick Lewis and Travis Browne was pushed back a week to headline a Fight Night card. Thank goodness for Silva, who at least had four weeks to prepare for Brooklyn.
It?s Silva?s first fight since going three rounds against Cormier on July 9 at the T-Mobile Arena. Despite the short notice Silva was competitive in the bout, forcing Cormier to use his wrestling skills to neutralize Silva. Although he lost, Silva was cheered by the crowd at T-Mobile Arena.
?When I took the fight against Cormier, I proved to myself how much passion I have for this sport and how much I respect this sport,? Silva said. ?I?m part of this company and if I have enough conditioning and they need help, I?m here to help.?
The Brazilian adds some much-needed name value to the first UFC event of the year and the first ever in Brooklyn. He is 0-4-1 in his last five bouts, but he?s still one of the most accomplished fighters in UFC history. He had 16 consecutive wins and 10 title defenses before losing to Weidman at UFC 162 on July 2013. He broke his leg in the rematch and then tested positive for a banned substance after his bout with Nick Diaz at UFC 183. A subsequent loss to current middleweight champ Michael Bisping last February seemed to signal his competitive career might be over. But after acquitting himself well against Cormier, the 41-year-old Silva (33-8-1) has no plans of retiring.
?When you go inside the cage, you have a 50 percent chance to win and if you put your heart into it, you can have the best fight in the world,? he said. ?When I go inside the cage now, I go because I love my job. I love to fight. I love to test myself.?
Silva said he will fight ?three or four? more years if his family will allow him. He hasn?t given up on a possible bout with Georges St-Pierre, the former UFC welterweight champion. St-Pierre, however, hasn?t fought since November 2013.
?It would be good for the sport and for the fans,? Silva said.
Regardless of what happens for the rest of his career, many will regard Silva as the G.O.A.T of the UFC. Such talk humbles him.
?I?m not the best,? he said. ?But I put my heart out there. When I go inside the cage, I don?t go in there to prove I?m best. I go in there to do my best and be happy. My motivation is my heart. I love my job. I love fighting. Fighting is my life.?