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Former longtime UFC middleweight champion and MMA great Anderson Silva said he enjoys his social-media clashes with current titleholder Michael Bisping. Still, he wants to fight him again for real.

The two vets first met in February 2016, but 3-1 favorite Silva (33-8 MMA, 16-4 UFC) fell to Bisping (30-7 MMA, 20-7 UFC) via unanimous decision in UFC Fight Night 84’s thrilling headliner.

It kickstarted a remarkable year for the surprisingly resurgent Bisping, who went on to upset Luke Rockhold for the title and then defended it with a revenge victory over longtime rival Dan Henderson. The 37-year-old was a finalist for MMAjunkie’s 2016 Fighter of the Year and picked up the top honor from other media outlets.

Silva, meanwhile, went on to suffer a short-notice loss to light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier in a non-title bout at UFC 200. Despite the setback, which has left him with a five-fight winless skid (four losses and a no-contest with Nick Diaz), Silva remains one of the biggest names in the sport. Still, when it comes to social media and Twitter, Bisping is one of his favorite dance partners.

“Actually, he is controversial,” Silva told “Combate News” on Combate (and translated by MMAjunkie). “Every now and then, he posts something, taunts. I actually shouldn’t keep up with the pace of his taunting, but it’s funny because people follow us on Twitter, and it’s cool, because they end up interacting.

“It’s nice, in a level, because it’s healthy. We are not attacking each other. Although he sometimes crosses the line, it’s healthy. And I think it’s important for the fans to have that interaction of taunting each other a little bit, within our limits and what we feel is right.”

Silva, 41, said that even without a scheduled bout, he remains a fixture in the gym, and he’s ready to jump immediately into a fight camp. Ideally, he said, he’ll fight in June or July, preferably in Brazil, where he kicked off an accomplished pro career 20 years ago.

As for Bisping, though, Silva feels there’s some unfinished business. Their 2016 bout was MMAjunkie’s “Fight of the Month,” and fans were buzzing about it for weeks afterward.

Silva, though, is quick to remind us that much of the buzz focused on some in-bout controversy. At the end of the third round, Bisping called for a timeout to retrieve his mouthpiece. Silva, knowing only a ref can call for a timeout, quickly unloaded a flying knee that floored the Brit. After some confusion, the fight eventually continued, and Bisping survived to get the unanimous-decision victory.

“In my opinion, I won,” Silva said. “It was very controversial because he landed two strikes when I was out of balance. He ended up getting the points. There was a situation when he was on top for a while, but I think I won the fight. Because when he ate the knee, the bell rang. And the rule, if I’m not mistaken, says he needs to get up on his own to go to his corner. He didn’t get up on his own and, while I was up in the cage, the commission came in.

“The commission never enters if the fight isn’t over. So when the commission came in, I was already celebrating, because he was knocked out. It’s a sport, I didn’t have to keep attacking him, also because the bell rang. But it’s done, it’s over. After he was knocked down, they brought in the stool for him to sit. The commission helped him get up and sit on the stool. He didn’t get up on his own. He was sitting in my corner, then they removed the stool, and put it in his corner, and he was sitting down for a while.”

After such a delay, Silva said he should have been declared the victor right there. However, the past is the past, he said, and he’s not questioning the champ’s credentials, especially in light of his wins over Rockhold and Henderson.

“In my opinion, I (beat Bisping),” he said. “But it’s OK. He’s the champion, he needs to be respected, and I hope to have another opportunity to fight him regardless of it being for the belt.”

At this point in his career, Silva, who posted a record 10 consecutive UFC title defenses from 2006-2013, said he’s not worried as much about title fights as he is putting on a good show for his fans.

“The truth is that I still have a few fights left in my contract,” he said. “I have, I think, still five or six fights left in my contract. I intend to do them. And since I fight in the (middleweight) division, there may be (a rematch with Bisping). Depending on my performances, I might have the opportunity to fight for the belt again.

“But it’s not something that I’m seeking. I want to do the fights that I need to for my contract. (I want to) put on good fights, of course, and I hope to win all of them and give a good show to the fans.”

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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