Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will return from a one-year suspension on February 27th, 2016 to face long-time middleweight contender Michael Bisping at the main event of UFC Fight Night 83 at the O2 Arena in London, England.

Not Just A Big Test

Silva, considered by most as the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time, was suspended following failed multiple drug tests in connection with his January 31st, 2015 bout against Nick Diaz. Silva won that bout but the decision was changed to a no-contest following the failed drug tests from both fighters. Silva has maintained his innocence and put the blame instead on sexual-boosting drugs he was on.

After a record 10 consecutive title defenses of the UFC middleweight title, the 40-year old Brazilian legend is 0-2-1 in his last three bouts. He got knocked out by Chris Weidman in 2013, and then broke his leg in their rematch the following year before beating Diaz last January. Silva is looking at Bisping as a “big test” before getting a title shot, but in reality, it may be the fight that will determine the fate of his long and glorious career.

Long Wait is Over

Bisping, meanwhile, has waited for this opportunity for a long time. He’s fought 24 times under the UFC promotion (the 6th most overall) yet because of his up-and-down career, he’s never gotten a title shot. And with Silva ruling the UFC’s 185 pound weight class since both fighters entered the UFC together in 2006, their paths never crossed. But with the circumstances very different now, Bisping is more than content to fighting Silva even though if it won’t be for the title anymore.

Bisping has won three of his last four bouts, with his only loss coming at the hands of newly crowned UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold in November 2014. A win over Silva puts him back on the hunt for that ever-elusive title shot. At age 36, this may be his last legitimate shot at UFC glory and his countrymen will be there to cheer him on.

Who Takes This

Silva opened as the early -225 favorite, while Bisping a slight +175 underdog. But make no mistake about it, Bisping won’t be a walk in the park. He’s coming off decision wins over the younger C.B. Dollaway and Thales Leites and beat up Cung Le before losing to Rockhold. It remains to be seen if we’ll ever see the same Anderson Silva again after back to back losses to Chris Weidman. He may be the Greatest but what is left of it? Should the old Silva show up though, this promises to be an exciting stand-up bout.

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