Anderson Silva is back — again.
The former UFC middleweight champion will make his return from a year-long suspension to face No. 7-ranked middleweight Michael “The Count” Bisping on Feb. 27 in the headlining slot at UFC Fight Night 83 in London, England, UFC President Dana White announced on Twitter Thursday.
This marks the first time in seven years that Silva won’t be fighting on either the main or co-main event slot of a pay-per-view card. Not only that, but the London card is set to be shown exclusively on UFC Fight Pass — the promotion’s digital subscription-based service.
Silva returns to the cage for the first time since defeating Nick Diaz in a five-round unanimous decision at UFC 183 in January. It was later revealed that Silva had tested positive for multiple steroids in a pre-fight drug test, altering his victory into a no contest. He was suspended 12 months retroactive to his January bout, while also fined 30 percent of his purse, totaling $380,000.
“The Spider” had previously spent a little over a year on shelf after breaking his leg in gruesome fashion in a title rematch against former champion Chris Weidman.
Long considered by many as the greatest fighter the sport has ever seen, Silva reigned atop the UFC’s middleweight division for six years, defeating names like Rich Franklin, Dan Henderson, Nate Marquardt, Forrest Griffin, Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort.
Bisping comes into the contest having won two in a row. He was previously scheduled to face Gegard Mousasi on the London card. Mousasi’s manager says his fighter is not injured and still plans on fighting in the co-main event slot, according to MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani.
“The Count” has publicly gone back and forth in his desire to face Silva, most recently saying he’d want no part in facing a man who previously tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.