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Sports Illustrated Notebook: Anderson Silva on boxing Jake Paul, 'It's possible'

Plus news and notes from the Professional Fighters League and Saturday's UFC Fight Night 206 in the latest MMA notebook.
anderson-silva

Even for the greatest of all time, there comes a time to step away. Yet that day is still a long distance away for Anderson Silva.

Now 47, the MMA legend-turned-boxer would relish a chance to box Jake Paul on pay-per-view.

"It's possible," said Silva, whose exhibition bout last weekend against Bruno Machado in Dubai on the Floyd Mayweather undercard was postponed following the death of the UAE president. "People need to respect the Paul brothers. Those kids are talented, and they've opened people's eyes about the good and bad in combat sports. I'm preparing my body for a challenge. We'll see what happens."

Starting with his MMA debut, it has been a storybook career for Silva.

He fought twice on his first night as a professional in June of 1997. Under the bright lights in Campo Grande, Brazil, he defeated Raimundo Pinheiro with a rear-naked choke and then collected his second win only hours later with a TKO win against Fabrício Camoes.

"That was many, many years ago," Silva said. "I was young. I could do anything back then."

Silva's MMA travels brought him from Brazil to Japan to South Korea to England, then finally to the United States. He made his UFC debut in 2006, beginning an iconic 16-fight win streak in his new home promotion.

Silva lost the win streak–and his middleweight title–when he dropped back-to-back bouts against Chris Weidman in 2013, which started a stretch of five fights (0-4, 1 NC in that stretch) where he did not collect a victory. Following a win against Derek Brunson in February of 2017, Silva briefly stepped back in time three years ago at UFC 234, taking Israel Adesanya to the limit in a fight that Adesanya won by unanimous decision.

"That night was very interesting, it was the meeting of two different generations," Silva said. "I showed him how much I loved fighting. It was a magic moment in my life."

He then dropped his next two bouts, and the UFC parted ways with the great Silva in November of 2020.

"When I look back, I feel very comfortable about what I accomplished," Silva said. "I made something special for the sport."

Retirement was never an option. Silva quickly returned to combat sports, just in a slightly different forum. He has committed to boxing, which he did once professionally in 1998, then again in 2005 before returning with a fury in 2021.

Silva won both bouts last year, defeating Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who has had a great deal of success in the sport, by split decision, then made quick work of former MMA champ Tito Ortiz. Anderson showed the sizable gap between himself and Ortiz, knocking out his opponent only 82 seconds into the opening round.

"I made the transition from my MMA career to boxing, and I'm doing something I love," Silva said. "I am training hard every day, so I'm not surprised at my success. I'm not impressed yet, either. I have a lot more work to do."

Silva has also committed to his acting. He plays Axel in the new "Lord of the Streets" film, which is streaming on Tubi.

"The film was a great opportunity," Silva said. "I've been working hard for years with my acting classes in L.A., and I love the challenge of acting. The story of the movie is amazing, and it's free for everyone to enjoy. I think people will feel strong emotions when they watch it."

Featuring a cast that also includes Khalil Rountree Jr., A.J. McKee, Cheick Kongo and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, a key part of the plot is built around underground fights.

"It was even better to be there with my friends," Silva said. "Khalil is like my young brother, and he was incredible in this. I'm a big fan of 'Rampage,' too. We all worked together and put our heart into it.

"Everyone needs to watch. The story is so interesting. I'm so happy to be part of it."

Vieira has big opportunity against Holm

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Ketlen Vieira has the opportunity of her career this weekend, challenging Holly Holm in the main event of tomorrow's UFC Fight Night 206.

This bout equates to a No. 1-contender's bout for the women's bantamweight title. Holm (14-5 MMA, 7-5 UFC) is coming off impressive back-to-back victories, and she will insert herself right into the title mix with this victory.

Vieira (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) won her first 10 bouts before splitting her past four. Her last fight was an emphatic victory against Miesha Tate, who once defeated Holm. A dominant win against Holm would establish Vieira as one of the best bantamweights in the world.

"I am the first woman from Amazonas in the UFC, and I am very proud of that," said Vieira, who spoke through a translator. "I want to create history, inspiring more people from my home."

Vieira knows she will create history if she eventually becomes champion. A black belt in both judo and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, she has the chance to jump to the front of the list of contenders with a win against Holm.

"Right now, I'm not worried about a title fight," Vieira sais. "I am focused on Holly Holm. If I don't beat Holly, there is no next step. My whole focus is beating Holly on Saturday."

Despite possessing knockout power, Vieira will need to avoid a slugfest against Holm, who is a Hall of Fame boxer and elite striker. Her best shot is to take Holm to the ground – and keep her there.

"The ground is my comfort zone," Vieira said. "That is my strength. She is a great striker, and there's a reason why she's a Boxing Hall of Famer. The ground game will play a big role in my strategy."

Baseball legend joins PFL board

Alex Rodriguez has entered the fight scene.

The baseball legend is the newest partial owner of the Professional Fighters League. The PFL, which airs on ESPN, has a platform with unlimited potential, and some massive backers.

The key for the PFL's future revolves around acquiring top fighters for their brand. Yes, there is Anthony Pettis and Kayla Harrison – but a key free agent or two would further elevate the company. Now that the backers are in place, it's time to identify and acquire the right talent.

This story first published at SI.com/MMA.