A former UFC middleweight champion and future UFC Hall of Famer, 47-year-old Anderson Silva is scheduled to face the 25-year-old Jake Paul in an eight-round professional boxing match on Oct. 29.
On the surface, it may seem like a bit of a must-win situation for one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time, but "The Spider" doesn't necessarily see it that way. Silva believes his legacy is beyond secure at this point, and his participation in the sweet science isn't about furthering his reputation in combat sports.
"Listen, everybody's talking about that, and they say, 'Oh, why are you going to fight with this young kid,' and, 'He's not a real fighter,' blah, blah, blah," Silva said at a pre-fight press conference promoting the event. "It's not about lose or win. It's about how much I love this and how much I can continue doing this with the new generation, you know?
"I don't think I'm going to lose, but if I lose, I don't think this affects my legacy or something in my career. Definitely not, because everything is there, you know?"
Silva held the UFC's middleweight title from 2006 to 2013, making it the longest championship reign in UFC history. He also won his first 16 UFC appearances, the longest winning streak in the 29-year history of the organization.
Silva's run after losing the title was far less glamorous and concluded with his final UFC appearances taking place in 2020.
Since that time, Silva has pursued a long-voiced desire to take part in professional boxing, returning to the ring for the first time since 2005 and earning wins over a legitimate boxer in former WBC champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., as well as UFC Hall of Famer and former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz
Paul is a relative neophyte to the striking arts compared to Silva, but the 22-year age gap leaves questions as to Silva's ability to outskill the far younger opponent.
Paul (5-0 Boxing) began his professional boxing run in 2020 and has already beaten former MMA champions Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley, but Silva (34-11 MMA, 3-1 Boxing) said he doesn't feel like it's his job to get revenge for the sport when the two meet on Showtime pay-per-view at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
"I think for everybody, this fight is amazing," Silva said. "It's not only for the UFC community or MMA community, it's for everybody. You know, this show is for every single person to come in this city and watch this show. It's not about I'm representing the MMA community. It's not about this. It's about doing the big show and the best show."
Silva and Paul have remained cordial in the initial pre-fight media tours, both offering respect for each other along the way. When officially announcing the matchup, Paul even shared a photo he and his brother, Logan Paul, took with Silva some 13 years ago.
Silva said he expects to have his hand raised when he and Paul meet in the squared circle, but he also said there's much more to take from this contest than simply who walks away with a victory.
"This fight is very important for every single new generation, and my generation, too," Silva said. "Why? Because I believe in wanting. You love something, you can do anything. You believe in yourself, you can do anything. That's why I'm here today, you know, because I never stopped believing in myself, and that's amazing because I come with this kid. You know, I have a picture with this kid when he was a baby, you know, and now I'm here with him. I'm so lucky because I continue to do my best."
This story first published at SI.com/MMA.