Longtime former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has been out of the octagon for the entirety of 2014 after breaking his leg in a UFC 168 middleweight rematch with champion Chris Weidman.

Silva painstakingly worked his way back to health this year and was scheduled in a huge return bout at UFC 183 against former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz, who hasn’t fought since March 2013 himself. UFC President Dana White has talked about the winner of the fight being dangerously close to a 185-pound title shot, but Silva has famously said that his rivalry with Weidman is over after two strange and unfortunate bouts.

However, never a fighter to say one thing and stick to it, Silva has apparently changed his mind about facing Weidman for a third time. Speaking to Passando a Guarda (via MMA Fighting), Silva said he would like to fight for the belt again, even if it meant squaring off with the man who took his title:

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“I think about fighting for the title again, of course. I have seven fights left in my contract and, if I have a chance to fight for the title again, I will fight. I will fight the fights I have left in my contract and, if I earn a chance to fight for the title one day, against (Weidman) or not – not being a friend or a training partner –, I will be happy.”

Not surprisingly, Silva has a new attitude about fighting for the belt now that his return looms. A third bout with Weidman would probably be one of, if not the, biggest bouts in MMA history, but it’s hard to say that Silva would have much for the undefeated champion given that he did hardly any damage in their two previous bouts.

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We’ll just have to wait and see how he looks in his return against Diaz. Most are giving the Stockton Bad Boy little chance to defeat Silva, but anything can happen in a fight where both competitors are such deadly strikers who are willing to stand and trade.

Silva believes it will be an all-time classic in that area of MMA:

“It’s going to be a show for the fans. It will make history as the best striking match of all-time. I’m really excited. It’s my comeback, I have to be excited. I’m training a lot, really happy with everything that is happening. Nick Diaz is a tough guy. He fights really well, has a great physical condition and a great technique, so it’s going to be a nice fight.

If Nick does a clean fight, if he fights standing without stalling, we’ll do a spectacular fight. Nick has a great boxing and it’s going to be a fantastic fight. Every UFC fan will like it.”

Meanwhile, Weidman will put his title on the line against Vitor Belfort at UFC 184 in February. If Silva comes out and destroys Diaz in the first round, there’s no doubt that everyone will be clamoring for him to get the next title shot.

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And why wouldn’t they?

If he loses, however, well, we’re just not going to consider that quite yet. Will we be witnessing Weidman vs. Silva III in 2015?

Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea for USA TODAY Sports