Antonio Silva hasn’t used his jiu-jitsu to finish a fight since 2009, when he tapped Jim York with an arm-triangle choke at Sengoku 10. Fighting in the other side of the world for the first time since then, "Bigfoot" might return to his roots.
The Brazilian faces off against K-1 veteran Mark Hunt at the main event of UFC Fight Night 33 this Friday night in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, and he admits his game plan for the bout involves some ground game.
"He’s a striker with a huge experience, did some great fights at K-1, so the perfect way to win this fight would obviously be using my jiu-jitsu," Silva told MMAFighting.com. "I’ve trained a lot of jiu-jitsu and wrestling, but I also worked on my striking game. The fight starts standing and I have to be prepared for everything.
"If I see some openings to end the fight standing, I will. I’ve always did great against strikers, like Alistair Overeem, Travis Browne, Fedor Emelianenko. I’ll go for the knockout if I have the opportunity, but taking him to the ground will be my game plan."
"Bigfoot" and Hunt have trained together in the past at American Top Team and he would prefer to fighter someone else inside the cage, but a lack of anger as a motivational factor is not an issue for the Brazilian.
"Fighting someone that you know and like is complicated, but it’s part of our job," he said. "I fight for my family and fans, people need my support every day, so I have to be professional. We’ll respect each other when the fight starts, and we’ll be friends and train together again after the fight, no problem. But when I get in there, winning is the only thing I’m going to think about."
Silva split his camp between Brazil and Florida this time, and made sure to go to Australia earlier to avoid the jet lag of being 15 hours ahead of Florida.
"The long travel is complicated, but I got here last Sunday so I’m used to the new time zone already," he said. "It’s a tropical weather, very similar to Brazil’s, so it’s cool for me. I’ll be 100 percent on Saturday."
Another difference in this fight is the time he’ll enter the Octagon, but Silva has also prepared for that specific detail.
"My fight starts at 2 p.m. on Saturday (Friday night in the U.S.), so that’s when I was doing my hardest sparring at gym," he said. "I got here earlier, so I’m already used to that and it won’t be a problem."
"Bigfoot" lost to Cain Velasquez twice inside the Octagon, but beat top-ranked heavyweights Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem in his other UFC fights. Should he defeat Hunt, the Brazilian eyes a fight with the winner of Travis Browne vs. Josh Barnett, planned for UFC 168 on Dec. 28.
"Travis Browne is a great athlete and has been evolving ever since we fought," he said. "He got a great knockout against Overeem, but I think there was a mistake in his fight against (Gabriel Gonzaga) because he finished the fight with elbows to the back of the head. His win over Overeem was great, though. But I’ll root for him against Josh Barnett.
"I’m not the type of fighter that chooses opponents," he continued. "I will fight whoever the UFC puts in front of me. But if they give me the opportunity to choose, I’d like to fight Barnett. We have a history, and that’s why I’d want this fight."