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Silva says injured leg is at 95 per cent, will be 100 per cent for comeback fight

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TORONTO - His family isn't too happy about it but former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva says he can't wait to return to the cage after a lengthy layoff from a gruesome leg injury.

The 39-year-old Brazilian is due to make his comeback Jan. 31 against Nick Diaz at UFC 183 in Las Vegas.

Silva (33-6) has not fought since breaking his leg last December in a fight against middleweight champion Chris Weidman at UFC 168. The Brazilian star collapsed in the cage after his leg essentially shattered when Weidman checked his kick.

"I'm just dying to return to the Octagon and do the thing that I most love in my life," Silva said Friday through an interpreter on a media conference call.

His family doesn't share that view, however.

"To tell you the truth, they're not too happy but they respect my wish and now they're coping with it," he added.

Asked about their objections, Silva replied: "I don't think anybody's family would like to see their family going to war and with mine it wouldn't be different."

Silva had surgery the night of the Weidman fight to stabilize his broken left leg, with a 40-centimetre-long rod inserted into the tibia below the knee. His fibula was also broken in what he called "a mere accident."

Silva says the injured leg is at 95 per cent and improving, promising it will be 100 per cent when he makes his comeback against Diaz. The rod may came out at a later date.

He said he never contemplated retirement in the aftermath of the injury. And he said there was no hesitation when it came to delivering his first kick back in the gym.

Silva said there are no limitations on his leg although he is not kicking as hard as he usually does.

"He's going to wait to kick hard at the day of the fight," said the interpreter.

The 30-year-old Diaz (27-9-1) last fought in March 2013 when he lost a decision to then-welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre.

Silva said he expects the fight with Diaz to be one of the best standup battles of the year.

"Nick Diaz is a guy that walks forward. He's got great boxing skills and he's going to come to fight. So the fans can expect a great fight."

Asked whether he had sights set on regaining his 185-point title, Silva said his first priority was to see how he performs against Diaz.

"Right now it's not my priority but it's not out of the question to fight for the title," said the Brazilian, who has seven fights left on his contract.

Silva lost his title to Weidman at UFC 162 in July 2013. The second-round knockout ended a 17-fight winning streak that included 10 successful title defences.

Silva was complimentary towards Weidman, calling him "a great champion."

"Very talented. The guy's for real," he said.

In a conference call earlier this week, Diaz said he did not enjoy fighting and was a non-violent person. It's just something he had to do.

Silva saw things a little differently, saying NASCAR drivers don't go out and burn rubber when they aren't competing.

"It's just a sport," he said of mixed martial arts. "It's a violent sport but it is what it is."

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