By Christopher Reive in Melbourne

If his career were to end today, Anderson Silva would go down as one of the greatest mixed martial artists to ever step inside the octagon.

In the twilight of his career, the 43-year-old Brazilian middleweight can look back on his time as the undisputed king of the UFC's 185-pound division, where he held the title for almost seven years.

His 2,457 days with the belt around his waist remains the longest reign in UFC history as he knocked back 10 challenges to his throne before American Chris Weidman took it in 2013.


His demolition of the division was a big reason New Zealand's Israel Adesanya stepped into the world of MMA, and now the two prepare to meet in the co-main event at UFC 234, with the winner getting the next shot at the UFC title, which will be held by either current champion Robert Whittaker or Kelvin Gastelum, who fight in Sunday's main event.

At Friday's UFC 234 press conference, Adesanya was asked if a title fight against the Kiwi-born Australian Whittaker was his ideal match-up. He quickly pointed out both he and Whittaker had tough fights to get through this weekend before that match up could be considered.

"A lot of you new fans weren't around during his reign. You might have come around the (Ronda) Rousey era or the (Conor) McGregor era, but you don't realise who this guy is."

"He brought me into this game. This guy inspired me to be able to believe a skinny black guy could come in here and f*** everyone up," Adesanya said.

Since losing his title in 2013, Silva has fought six times - with four losses, a no-contest and a solitary win in those bouts.

While his fight against Adesanya on Sunday is for the No.1 contender's spot for the middleweight championship, Silva's future with in the UFC could be in doubt should he be stopped by the young phenom.

Adesanya was hopeful to have the honour of being the one to end Silva's career.

"He brought me into this game and, for me, it would be an honour to take him out of the game," Adesanya said.


Silva has never fought in Australia in his time as a professional MMA fighter, but a bout against Adesanya, who has long been compared to Silva, and one last opportunity for a title fight was too good to pass up.

"I'm very impressed," Silva said of Adesanya.

"Israel is a great talent. He has a great future in this sport, so I'm very lucky to come here and fight on this card. It's a good challenge for me, but I believe it's a big challenge for Israel."