Veteran MMA fighter Anderson Silva has admitted he's excited to square off with rising Kiwi talent Israel Adesanya, saying it could be the first time in his long career he has faced someone with the same style.
Silva told MMA Junkie he was intrigued by the February 9 fight in Melbourne next year while praising the undefeated Kiwi.
"Israel is a great fighter," Silva said. "I think he’s super talented, he’s young, he has a brilliant future ahead in this sport. I believe he might be a version of him and he’ll become a better version of himself.
"I believe Israel is not my new version. But I think this fight is very interesting, because I believe this is the first time I have the opponent (with) the same style. That’s a good test for my martial arts skills."
The 43-year-old holds plenty of respect in the UFC. He holds the UFC record for longest title reign at 2,457 days after becoming the middleweight champion in 2006. He defended his title 16 consecutive times after that before losing by knockout to Chris Weidman in 2013.
Since, Silva's record has been less than desireable, losing three of his five contests as well as a no-contest after he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs which resulted in a one-year suspension.
Having served his ban, Silva will return to the octagon at the Rod Laver Arena for the first time in 23 months since his last fight - a unanimous decision win over Derek Brunson.
"My legacy is trying to continue. It doesn’t matter how much old or not, because old is in your mind," Silva said.
"When people talk about, 'Oh, you’re old' – especially in my home, because my family, my kids say, 'Dad, stop. You don’t need to prove nothing. Stop.' And I say say, 'OK, you have a dream you love, something – just do it.'
"The Spider Kick team helped me a lot, and helped me with a new challenge and new energy to continue my legacy."
Silva added in a perfect world, he would retire as champion and Adesanya remains the only one left in his way to try and reclaim that glory.
Both fighters have been told by UFC boss Dana White their fight is effectively an eliminator with the winner getting a title shot next.
"(White) said, 'OK, if you win, you will fight for the belt,'" Silva said. "I said 'OK, then you’ll have to give me the title shot, because I will win.'"