clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Relaxed Anderson Silva Says 'I Guarantee You Someone's Going to Fall'

PHILADELPHIA - Anderson Silva walked into his scheduled workout 30 minutes late, but he had a handshake for everyone in the room and a smile on his face. Wearing an adidas warm-up suit in his standard black-and-yellow colors, Silva showed no signs of being a man under fire.

Following two wins that UFC President Dana White and many fans considered to be lackluster, the Brazilian who still holds the UFC middleweight championship, and who has never lost in the octagon, was nothing short of playful during his first media appearance of UFC 101 fight week.

During the one hour he spent before the assembled press, Silva sparred, rolled and otherwise toyed with his training partners and anyone else he encountered. Immediately upon walking into the room, he hid behind a pair of UFC signs and stuck his head out in a peek-a-boo manner. Later, he mischievously tossed his sparring partner on to a table next to their workout mat. And during his interview session with the press, he feigned holding up a microphone to each media member who asked him a question.

"I'm always having a good time," he said through his interpreter and manager Ed Soares. "I'm always relaxed when I fight. I feel part of the UFC family. I feel very comfortable here. I've been doing this since I was a kid. I enjoy getting ready for a fight."

Of the several fighters who went through open workouts, Silva's was the most in-depth but also the loosest. Alternating training rounds with cardio, "the Spider's" smile was omnipresent. Flashing occasional glimpses of his brilliance, he showed off his athleticism with thudding kicks against a freestanding training bag, got serious hang time on a jumping knee and unveiled a running switch knee that drew a few "ooohs" from onlookers.

But his level of relaxation can only last for so long. On Saturday, the 34-year-old will move up to 205 pounds for the second time. In his first encounter at the weight just over one year ago, he needed just 61 seconds to knock out James Irvin. But this time, the stakes have been raised, as the man staring at him from across the cage is former light-heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin. And while Silva looked noticeably thicker than he does at 185, Griffin will have a distinct size advantage come fight time.

Coupled with that, Griffin also brings an aggressive style that relies on taking the center of the octagon and dictating the pace. It is a tried and tested method, but it is also a dangerous one.

Silva has made his reputation as a counterstriker, working off his own defensive brilliance and his opponents' rhythms to create openings and capitalize on his pinpoint accuracy and hand speed. It is exactly because of this style clash that UFC President Dana White and matchmaker Joe Silva put the bout together, hoping to put Silva in a fight in which the action is brought to him.

Though Silva's belt is not at stake, the non-title bout is no showcase. Silva's octagon winning streak and air of invincibility is on the line against a bigger man, while Griffin faces the prospect of losing to a natural middleweight. The style matchup means less to Silva than the fight's greater meaning; both men have something to lose.

"I think in my other fights I got in the ring, I was motivated and ready to fight also, and this fight, I feel the same way," Silva said. "Every fight I'm excited and ready to go. I'm well prepared and ready to go."

Still, the fact that both men have shown a preference for striking is not lost on him. Fourteen of Silva's 24 career wins come from KO or TKO, including seven during his current 10-fight win streak.

"That's what I'm hoping for. I hope he comes in there and we get to see a standup war for 15 minutes," he said. "I can guarantee I'm prepared to go 15 minutes of a standup war and I guarantee you someone's going to fall."

Silva's never been knocked out, so he wasn't talking about himself with the last comment. Still, never has a reigning champion faced so much fire during such a dominant stretch. Since that 61-second trashing of Irvin, he was a bit flat in a title defense against Patrick Cote that ended with the challenger crumpled on the ground due to a freak knee injury, and then he went five rounds with Thales Leites, who was as determined to put the fight on the ground as Silva was to keep it standing. Those diverging philosophies made for a stalemate in which Leites was hesitant to throw punches, giving the counter-fighting Silva nothing to key off of.

For the record, Silva gives himself high grades for his two most recent performances, characterizing them as "great," but many fans disagreed. Both of those fights ended with boos for the champ, but he's eager to show he has not lost the killer instinct that led him to two TKO finishes over Rich Franklin and a submission over Dan Henderson.

"I know it's going to be a tough fight," he said. "Forrest is going to try to hit me a lot, and I'm going to try to hit him. It's going to be fun."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting