UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva isn't ready to give up his crown as the best fighter on the planet just yet, but it appears he's starting to plan ahead for life after fighting.
The top ranked 185-pound champion has recently started dabbling as an actor, picking up several small roles in a few straight-to-video releases. He has already picked up a couple of new projects that will begin production later this year, including one titled Burning Sun, where he will star alongside Academy Award nominated actor Terrence Howard.
Silva isn't slowing down his acting aspirations because he's also recently agreed to star in a new film titled Monday Nights at Seven, where he would potentially star alongside former Battlestar Galactica actor Edward James Olmos.
The word potentially remains in that statement because the film is currently seeking funding through a Kickstarter program, with the creator of the movie project leading the way along with the assistance of Olmos, former UFC champion Frank Shamrock and now Silva also signing on with the project.
The director and creator of the film, Marty Sader, says landing Silva for his film was a big deal because he pegged the UFC middleweight champion early on in the process as someone he really wanted to bring aboard.
"I've been an Anderson Silva fan, a huge fan of his since the first time I saw him fight Chris Leben. The first time I was kind of introduced to him was in the UFC when he fought Chris Leben. Since then, I've seen his fights that came before that. I've seen everything I can get my hands on for Anderson. I can almost predict what he's going to do next in terms of physical movements, that's how much I've gotten to know and study him," Sader told Bleacher Report recently. "You could say I was a fanatic, and I don't see him as a fighter. I see him as an artist."
Silva's involvement is another piece to this puzzle, but the film is very intriguing beyond the addition of the UFC middleweight champion.
The film is set as a love story with a father connecting with his daughter, the trials and tribulations of the lead character dealing with his father and a new relationship that comes into his life. There will be a mixed martial arts element to the film, but Sader insists this is not an MMA movie.
There have certainly been plenty of attempts at making a pure MMA movie by Hollywood, including the film Warrior that snared Nick Nolte an Academy Award nomination back in 2011.
Sader's vision was a little different in how he wanted to incorporate MMA into his storyline in connection with his lead character.
The big twist in Monday Nights at Seven comes with the director and star actually stepping foot inside a cage for a fight that will be filmed live with no predetermined outcome. Sader has actually been training for an MMA debut, and if his film gets funded, he will compete at a Resurrection Fighting Alliance (RFA) event later this year.
While plenty of fights have been filmed for movies, it's an unprecedented move outside of a documentary showing fight footage of an actual competitive bout taking place. Sader said that the vision for his project pushes the boundaries of what Hollywood has been willing to do to make something authentic.
"If you don't push the boundaries, the norm will never change," Sader said. "You've got to challenge whatever that norm is. For me, when I started training and really understanding what this was all about, the only way to understand is to live the life. Eating, training and sleeping, you don't pretend for three months, you just do it. You do it because after a while, you realize that's the only way you can honor these fighters."
Sader even put himself through rigorous training to prepare for a bout that he hopes takes place later this year, assuming his Kickstarter campaign pays off. He's worked with trainers like Greg Jackson, as well as sparred with several top-rated UFC fighters to get ready for a potential MMA debut.
Even at his home gym in California, where Sader has trained under the same coach responsible for UFC bantamweight women's champion Ronda Rousey, nobody knew that this tall, lanky newcomer was actually a writer and director hoping to fight for his own film.
"I didn't tell anyone. I've been training at Gokor's (Chivichyan) gym for about three and a half years, and almost every fighter in there did not know about what I'm doing," Sader revealed. "Because I didn't want them to look at me like that. I wanted them to just see me as another guy. When I got the respect from them in their eyes is when they say to me that I would be ready. For the past six months or a year, they've been hounding me like 'when are you going to fight?' not knowing that I'm going to be fighting in a movie."
Once Sader knew he had enough training to feel comfortable, he pushed forward with the project. He's now added Silva with the full support of his manager, Ed Soares, who is also the president of Resurrection Fighting Alliance.
Assuming the Kickstarter crowd sourcing works for the movie, Sader will step foot in the cage during an RFA event later this year for a real fight that will be added to the movie. Sader says it's not about whether he wins or loses in that fight—it's more about the story of a man who realizes his dream by fighting for the first time.
"This is something that I've thought about in my quiet time, and I'm very aware of all the different angles of what could happen. What matters is always the story. The story is the most important thing. Any time you veer off that, you go wrong," Sader said. "The story is ultimately about this guy, who in order to do the right thing and be an example to his daughter, steps into the cage ultimately pursuing his own dream, which is stepping into the cage. So, the outcome is not as important as the step that a father takes in order to assure his daughter's future. That finally made the decision for me to finally go in there."
The Kickstarter campaign for Monday Nights at Seven runs through the beginning of August. If the film finds the proper funding, Sader will fight at an RFA event, and then Silva will join the cast in front of the camera to film his parts of the upcoming production.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.