Former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva took to Instagram on Thursday to challenge former lightweight and featherweight titleholder Conor McGregor — an offer the Irishman quickly accepted.
The 45-year-old Silva lost six of his last seven fights (not including a no-contest against Nate Diaz in 2015), and last stepped into the Octagon at last year’s UFC 237.
Legendary Silva Recovering from Knee Surgery
Silva lost that bout to Jared Cannonier by TKO late in the first round. He underwent knee surgery in May, but says he still plans to fight out the remainder of his UFC contract.
“I have immense admiration for the great athlete that Conor is, and I believe that a super fight would go down in the history of the sport,” Silva wrote on Instagram. “I believe that fans of the UFC and of this sport would like to watch this great martial arts spectacle, it would be fantastic to test my martial arts skills against him!”
Silva suggested a catchweight of 176 pounds for the fight. McGregor has fought as high as at 170 pounds for welterweight bouts against Nate Diaz and Donald Cerrone.
McGregor enthusiastically responded to Silva’s idea on Twitter, saying he’s ready to take on the Brazilian legend.
I accept. https://t.co/HYqF132EvZ
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) May 28, 2020
McGregror later expounded on his position in a video interview.
“I’m afraid of no one,” McGregor told SevereMMA. “I’ll go up and fight at any weight.”
White: Lightweight Division Most Important for McGregor
Whether or not this fight will ever happen is another question entirely. UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Thursday that he hasn’t had any conversations with McGregor about his next opponent.
“Conor and I have not talked about fighting,” White told ESPN. “I think what Conor needs to do is sit back and let these fights start rolling out. Obviously, the most important division is the 155-pound [lightweight] division. See what plays out.”
McGregor has accepted or suggested several potential fights. He’s called out interim lightweight champion Justin Gaethje, though it’s more likely that McGregor would fight the winner of a unification fight between Gaethje and Khabib Nurmagomedov. The 31-year-old McGregor has even said he’s open to fighting retired boxer Oscar De La Hoya.
If the fight with Silva happens, early indications are that bookmakers think Silva (34-10) can hang with the much younger McGregor (22-4). While most American sportsbooks aren’t offering odds on the hypothetical matchup, Bovada opened Silva as a -125 favorite over McGregor (-105).
Those odds are putting a tremendous amount of faith in Silva’s significant size advantage and his legendary standup game, which has led many to regard him as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. But Silva is well past his prime, while McGregor remains a championship contender in the lightweight and welterweight divisions.