Originally from Brasilia, Brazil, Silva began training in karate at the age of four, and received his black belt at the age of 12. After 13 years of karate training, Silva transitioned to Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo at the age of 17.
Silva began his career with the UK-based Wolfslair MMA Academy in 2005. In 2006, after his bout with Tadas Rimkevicius, Wolfslair requested (to Silva's instructor Mario Neto) that Silva leave the team and return to Brazil. The gym claims Silva owed it over £20,000; however, Silva states that it owed him £6,000 in fighter purses for two fights, for which he was promised £3,000 each. After training with Brazilian Top Team during the dispute, Silva joined American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Florida. He also trained at the Imperial Athletics gym in Boca Raton, Florida, for his quarterfinal bout with Fedor Emelianenko in the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament.
Silva made his professional debut in the United Kingdom against Georgian fighter Tengiz Tedoradze, who would become the Cage Rage British Heavyweight Champion two fights later. Silva was impressive in his debut, winning by TKO only 48 seconds into the fight. In his next bout, Silva made his Cage Warriors debut and won again via strikes after his opponent submitted.
Silva then made his Cage Rage debut and became the Cage Rage World Heavyweight Champion after defeating his opponent via TKO. Silva then returned to Cage Warriors to fight longtime veteran Ruben "Warpath" Villareal for the Cage Warriors Super Heavyweight Championship and won again via TKO, and became the Cage Warriors Super Heavyweight Champion. Silva followed this up with a knockout win over Lithuanian fighter Tadas Rimkevicius before making his Japanese debut for K-1 Hero's. In his debut for the organization, he defeated longtime veteran Tom Erikson via TKO and then won his next fight by knockout.
This brought Silva's record to an undefeated 7-0 with all his wins coming by TKO/KO within the first round. Silva faced Eric Pele in his first and only fight with the BodogFIGHT promotion and was handed his first career loss with a controversial TKO.
On February 10, 2007, Silva made his EliteXC debut at EliteXC: Destiny, against UFC veteran Wesley Correira. Silva won by TKO due to strikes in the first round.
Silva was originally scheduled to fight on the Dynamite!! USA card as a representative of EliteXC. He was to face Jonathan Wiezorek, but the California State Athletic Commission (CSAC) discovered a benign tumor on his pituitary gland in his pre-fight medicals and refused to license the fighter. As a result, Silva underwent brain surgery that summer in order to have the tumor removed.
Post-surgery, Silva finally faced Jonathan Wiezorek at EliteXC: Renegade in November 2007. He won the fight by-rear naked choke in the first round. His next victory came by split decision (28-29, 29-28, 30-27) over former UFC Heavyweight Champion Ricco Rodriguez.
On July 26, 2008, Silva won the EliteXC Heavyweight Championship, with a second-round TKO win over UFC veteran Justin Eilers. Silva later tested positive for the anabolic steroid Boldenone, and was suspended for one year and fined $2,500 by the California State Athletic Commission. According to Silva's manager, Alex Davis, the positive test was caused by Silva's use of Novedex, a testosterone-booster he takes to raise his low testosterone levels (a symptom of his acromegaly). "He has to treat it", said Davis. "He spends between $6,000 and $8,000 a month just on medicine for it. He needs to be able to keep fighting to make a living. If it's between Antônio's health and pleasing the athletic commission, we have to choose his health."
Soon after, Silva signed on to fight at World Victory Road Presents: Sengoku no Ran 2009. He was advised not to fight in Japan by the California State Athletic Commission. He ignored this advice, and continued to claim that he had not used steroids. At the January 4, 2009 event, he defeated Yoshihiro "KISS" Nakao by TKO when Nakao suffered a knee injury in the first round.
At Sengoku 10 he fought Jim York, winning by submission in the first round. With both fighters looking tentative on the feet, Silva took York down once, but was stood up by the referee. Later in the round, he took York down again, assuming the half-guard position and landing effective hammerfists and punches, before moving into an arm triangle choke from the side control position to secure victory.
On November 7, 2009, Silva suffered the second loss of his career, losing a decision to Fabrício Werdum at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers. After dominating the first round, Silva fractured his left hand in the beginning of the second.
Silva defeated former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski on May 15, 2010, at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery, via decision.
He was scheduled to face Valentijn Overeem on Dec. 4, but Overeem suffered an injury and withdrew from the fight. He was replaced by Mike Kyle. Kyle knocked down Silva in the first round with a punch, but Silva survived Kyle's ground and pound and recovered. In the second round, Silva mounted Kyle and forced a TKO stoppage with punches.
Silva defeated Fedor Emelianenko in the quarterfinal round of the 2011 Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament, via doctor stoppage between the second and third rounds. He was expected to meet Alistair Overeem in the semifinals, but Overeem withdrew from the fight due to injury. He was replaced by one of the tournament alternates, Daniel Cormier. Cormier knocked Silva out with standing punches at 3:56 of round 1.
On January 7, 2012, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira told "Portal do Vale Tudo" Silva had signed a UFC contract. Silva was scheduled to debut against Roy Nelson on May 26, 2012 at UFC 146, but was rescheduled to face Cain Velasquez instead. Velasquez defeated Silva by TKO in the first round.
Silva faced Travis Browne on October 5, 2012 at UFC on FX 5. Early in the fight Browne injured his hamstring, limiting his movement. Silva capitalized on Browne's limited mobility by backing him against the cage. After a big right sent Browne to the canvas, Silva finished him off with strikes on the ground for a first round TKO victory.
Silva next faced Alistair Overeem on February 2, 2013 at UFC 156. Leading up to the fight, Overeem was dismissive of Silva's skills, claiming he was better than his opponent in every aspect of MMA. Despite being a significant underdog and losing the first and second rounds, Silva won the fight via KO in the third round. The win also earned Silva his first Knockout of the Night honor.
Silva faced Cain Velasquez in a rematch for the UFC Heavyweight Championship on May 25, 2013 at UFC 160. Silva was rocked with a right hand early into the fight and finished again via TKO in the first round.
Silva faced Mark Hunt on December 7, 2013 at UFC Fight Night 33 in the main event. It was a back-and-forth affair that saw both men trade the advantage over five full rounds. The end result was a majority draw (48–47 Hunt, 47–47, and 47–47). Post-fight, Dana White said the bout won Fight of the Night and, despite the draw result, both men would receive their win bonuses. Silva forfeited his win money and $50,000 Fight of the Night bonus to Hunt after failing a post-fight test for elevated testosterone (he had been undergoing UFC-approved testosterone replacement therapy). He was suspended for nine months, retroactive to the date of the fight.
Silva faced Andrei Arlovski in a rematch on September 13, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 51. He lost the fight via knockout in the first round. Following this fight, Silva returned to the hospital for surgery to remove a pituitary gland tumor - which causes his acromegaly - that had reemerged. The surgery was successful and he expects to return to fighting in 2015.
Silva was expected to face Frank Mir on February 28, 2015 at UFC 184. However, the bout with Mir was moved up a week and instead served as event headliner for UFC Fight Night 61. Silva lost the fight via knockout in the first round, as Mir dropped Silva with a left hook and finished him with a barrage of ground and pound.
Silva faced Soa Palelei on August 1, 2015 at UFC 190. He won the fight by TKO in the second round.
A rematch with Mark Hunt took place on November 15, 2015 at UFC 193. Silva lost the fight via TKO in the first round.
Silva next faced Stefan Struve on May 8, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 87. Silva lost the bout via knockout in the first round as he was stunned by a right hook on the chin followed with a knee to the body and multiple elbows to the side of his head.
Silva fought Roy Nelson on September 24, 2016 at UFC Fight Night 95. He lost the fight by knockout in the second round. Subsequently, he was released from the UFC.
Mixed martial artsMMA Lineal championship
Heavyweight Lineal Championship (One time)
EliteXC Heavyweight Championship (One time, first, last)
Cage Rage World Heavyweight Championship (One time, last)
Cage Warriors Heavyweight Championship (One time)
One Successful Title Defense
2011 Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix semifinalist
Ultimate Fighting Championship
Knockout of the Night (One time) vs. Alistair Overeem
Fight of the Night (forfeited after testing positive for elevated testosterone)
Antônio Silva is married to Rosario Pimentel and they have two daughters together, Anne and Aysha. He and his family reside in Deerfield Beach, Florida.