Former longtime UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has already surprised with his rapid recovery from the badly broken leg he suffered against Chris Weidman at UFC 168 on December 28, 2013.

It’s not even been two months, but already we’ve seen “The Spider” walk down stairs and begin grappling training. His doctor reported his bone growth has been monumental, exhibiting progress that sometimes takes other patients years to accomplish.

But today, his biggest step towards making a triumphant return to the cage has been chronicled.

Although it looks like he’s easing back into striking, Silva was shown hitting the pads in a video from Instagram account silva_mtc:

He may be far from his legendary self, but his progress at this point is nonetheless flabbergasting. To be hitting the pads like he is less than two months removed from a shattering leg break is hard to believe; yet we’ve seen it with our own eyes.

And the more that Silva recovers, the more the stacked UFC middleweight division may be held up. With the belt on the line in UFC 173’s Weidman vs. Vitor Belfort main event, “The Spider” may indeed fight the winner of that bout if he can return to full health by the end of the year.

Deserving or not, if that’s Weidman, that would be quite the interesting contest.

That would leave top-level challengers Lyoto Machida and Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza in the cold as they wait for the next development in the suddenly crowded 185-pound title picture.

Many thought “The Spider’s” career was over when he crumpled to the mat in pain in Las Vegas. Now, it’s only a matter of when and against whom he returns.

Will he ever return to the championship level he maintained for so many years?

Photo: Mark J. Rebilas for USA TODAY Sports