LAS VEGAS -- Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva is the first to admit it: he didn’t want to fight Daniel Cormier in the semifinal round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. What he wanted was a fight with Alistair Overeem, which is exactly what he was supposed to get, based on the original tournament bracket. When Overeem was dropped by Strikeforce and picked up by the UFC, Silva’s motivation went with him, the Brazilian heavyweight said.
"When Strikeforce moved Alistair Overeem to the UFC, I [was] so sad," Silva told reporters on Wednesday. "[I said], I don’t want to fight now. I fought only because of the money. I [didn’t] want to fight my last fight, and I lost very fast."
The fight lasted just a shade under four minutes, as Cormier dropped Silva with a right hand and finished him off with punches moments later. It was a loss that Silva had coming, and even his wife knew it, he said.
"When I go forward to the cage, my wife watched [on TV]. She said, ‘When I see you come to the cage, your spirit [was still] backstage. You didn’t have the spirit to fight.’ I fought only because of the money."
The strange part is, losing that fight might have actually been a pretty savvy career move. Cormier went on to win the Grand Prix, but he’s still stuck in Strikeforce. Silva, meanwhile, is making his UFC debut against top heavyweight and former UFC champ Cain Velasquez at UFC 146 here on Saturday night.
Asked if he thought that it worked out better for him in the end, Silva simply grinned and replied, "Yeah." But now he has to take on the teammate and sparring partner of the last man who stopped him in the cage.
According to Velasquez, there was only so much he was able to learn from Cormier’s win over Silva.
"He was so dominant in his fight and it was so quick, I mean, there was some stuff that he was able to tell me, but that fight was so quick," the former champ said. "You can’t really judge it off that. I’m expecting a different kind of fighter this Saturday."
The way Velasquez sees it, Silva’s size alone isn’t so threatening, since he’s used to being the smaller man in his fights.
"I’ve fought big guys. I’ve fought big guys with good stand-up and I’ve fought big guys with good wrestling," he said. "I think a combination like he has, I haven’t fought anybody like that yet."
Silva, meanwhile, has fought someone a lot like Velasquez, and someone from the same exact gym. It didn’t go so well for him last time, but this time will be different, he said, if only because this time he truly wants to fight.
"Now I’m so happy, my energy’s good, my camp was so good," Silva said. "My family pushed me all the time. Now I’m very, very different."
If it took a knockout loss to get him here, and to prompt those changes? That’s okay with Silva, he said.
"This is my dream, fight[ing] in the UFC," he said. "...I will win this fight."