LAS VEGAS -- You've heard by now that Alistair Overeem has promised to destroy Antonio Silva at UFC 156. "Bigfoot" has heard it, too. And apparently, that has made the giant angry.
Silva had just spent the better part of an hour convincing reporters that he wasn't bothered by Overeem's words, but when the Brazilian got within speaking distance of his opponent, that all changed. The two met for a photo opportunity on Thursday and Silva wasted no time warning Overeem that he had crossed the line.
In a tense moment, Silva and Overeem neared each other and Silva appeared to make contact, with his massive left hand covering most of Overeem's face. Silva then began to jaw at him. As Dana White attempted to step in between the massive heavyweights, Overeem responded and the two exchanged words and glares even as they backed away from each other to give way to the next pairing of fighters.
According to White, the exchange went like this:
Silva: "You better start showing respect."
Overeem: "I'm going to f------ destroy you."
The fight between the two is a long time in coming, and has had personal ramifications in both of their lives. It was originally supposed to happen in the Strikeforce heavyweight world Grand Prix, when both men advanced to the semifinals and were on the same side of the bracket. Fate intervened at that point, as Overeem declined a scheduled date with Silva due to an injury, causing Strikeforce to remove him from the tournament and eventually cut him. Silva went on to lose to replacement Daniel Cormier.
Fast forward to February 2012, and Overeem joined the Florida-based Blackzilians camp, which happened to be the home of Silva. Rather than train alongside Overeem, Silva opted to pick up and move to American Top Team, saying that an eventual bout between them was inevitable.
As it turns out, he was right.
And as it happens, the stakes are high for Overeem. White said that with a win, Overeem will advance to a championship match against Cain Velasquez. But for Silva, there is no such promise. After snapping a two-fight losing skid with a knockout over Travis Browne, Silva is hoping to re-establish his momentum with a win that would be his most significant since beating Fedor Emelianenko about two years ago.
With his words, he said the matchup against Overeem is nothing personal, but with his actions, he said otherwise.
"This is the first time," Silva said when asked if he'd ever been the target of pre-fight trash talk. "I'm very surprised. I don't like that. We are professionals. We need respect. Both guys need respect."