The beating Cain Velasquez laid on Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva at UFC 146 was one of the most visceral mixed martial arts scenes of 2012. Velasquez rained down elbow after elbow on the bloodied Silva en route to a first-round TKO.
A year later, however, it is clear that Silva has put the loss in his rear-view mirror. A pair of knockout victories has put "Bigfoot" in position for a rematch at UFC 160 in Las Vegas with Velasquez, who, unlike at this point last year, is now the UFC heavyweight champion.
The way Silva sees it, last year's bout isn't necessarily indicative of the rematch's outcome.
"There's no superheroes in this sport," Silva said through an interpreter at Tuesday UFC 160 media teleconference. "Nobody is invincible, I've been putting in a lot of hard work for the past nine weeks and I've been preparing myself and I'm very confident I am going to have my arm raised on May 25."
Whether it was the Octagon jitters of his UFC debut, or whatever the reasoning, things obviously didn't go well for Silva last May. But after defeating Travis Browne and Alistair Overeem in back-to-back fights, the challenger feels he's in the right mental place. And that includes making sure to work with the tools he's been given, and not try to fight his opponent's fight.
"I think the main thing is in our first fight I was nervous and I was anxious," Silva said. "I replaced those emotions now. Now I'm driven, I really want this. Comparing my style of fighting to Cain's style of fighting, I would have to be born again to become faster than Cain Velasquez. I have 30 pounds on him, he's going to be faster than me. So I need to work with what I have. I have to work with what I have, I have very heavy, heavy hands.
"I have a lot of respect for Cain Velasquez, I think he's an incredible fighter. The first punch I really land he's going to go down, he's an incredible fighter, and I respect I expect him as a person, but I'm very confident in myself and I feel very good going into the fight."
Velasquez, for his part, isn't about to overlook an opponent as powerful and imposing as "Bigfoot," regardless of what happened last time out.
"This is a whole new fight," the champion said. "Obviously we saw we saw what Bigfoot can do in his past two fights. The thing about taking him lightly, he's a tough competitor, he's really dangerous in the Octagon, so I don't see this as, you know, anything less than a hard, grueling fight. That's what I'm expecting."
The respect is clearly mutual. In fact, it's clear there's an underlying level of respect shown among most of the sport's heaviest hitters. Silva, who was openly disrespected by Overeem before Silva finished him with a wicked TKO at UFC 156, explained why.
"I think that great fighters need to train and show their talent inside the cage, not outside," Silva said. "I think fighters like Big Nog, Junior, and Cain, these are skilled fighters, they show what they have inside the cage. In my opinion, the less you talk the better,
"The heavyweight division is a division where anyone can happen. One punch lands and the fight is over, so you really have to be careful what you say. Respect is always first and foremost, before the fight, after the fight, you have to respect your opponent."