Despite the indomitable fighting spirit he's shown over the years, it's hard to picture Anderson Silva stepping back inside the Octagon.
That's because he suffered one of the most horrific injuries in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's history during his UFC 168 title rematch against Chris Weidman, who handed Silva his first loss inside the Octagon six months earlier, breaking his left leg.
For those who haven't seen it, here's a replay of the fateful moment.
Still, Silva, 39, is convinced he still has a little bit left in his tank, and he's set to make his comeback against Nick Diaz on Jan. 31, 2015 at at UFC 183.
"When I saw that my leg was broken, I was terrified," Silva said about the moments following his injury during an appearance on Rede Globo, per Sherdog.com. "I couldn't tell if the fracture was exposed or not. Then, I spoke to the judge who was there with me so they could put my leg in place as quickly as possible, and the pain was absurd. I only thought one thing: Is it over? Will I ever walk again? Am I alright? But, I am confident that I will succeed. I will return."
Silva's doctors expect his leg to reassume its original strength, so a comeback certainly isn't out of the picture. However, given the psychological rollercoaster "The Spider" has had to deal with thanks to the injury, it's hard to see Silva returning to his previous form.
"I'm improving. I'm not going 100-percent, but I'm already taking little steps with a crutch," Silva said about his recovery. "It's a pain that I do not wish on anyone. Since I came from Las Vegas, I left the hospital, I can't sleep all night. It's very difficult. … I never before had to come home bruised. Not a cut, nothing. It was the saddest thing to get home and look at my wife, my children, and be hurt. It's the one thing that saddened me greatly and it's something that greatly moved me. It was the worst moment of my life and my career."
"The Ultimate Fighter" season five contestant Corey Hill suffered a similar injury during his 2008 fight against Dale Hartt, and the road to recovery wasn't easy for him either. After cunning his way into the Ultimate Fighter house by claiming he had a 4-0 pro record when he actually had never competed professional, Corey -- who won a national championship during his junior college days wrestling alongside Daniel Cormier -- turned out to be a natural fighter, winning a close decision against Rob Emerson during his first fight on the show, putting on a valiant effort during his quarterfinal fight against Nate Diaz -- which he lost via triangle choke. He racked up a pair of wins and a loss as a pro mixed martial artist before running into Hartt.
Corey has gone 4-4 since the injury, and, given how much potential he showed on TUF as a six-foot-four lightweight, it's only rational to think the injury slowed him down a bit.
Silva might be in a class of his own, but it's hard to see even the greatest fighter in MMA history fully recovering from the leg injury he suffered at UFC 168. All great things most come to an end, and at this point in his career, it seems like the MMA gods are trying to send The Spider a message.