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‘Bigfoot’ Silva on Stefan Struve: 'I see a lot of openings in his game'

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Antonio Silva desperately needs a win, and he expects to get it quickly at UFC Fight Night 87.

The one-time heavyweight contender faces Stefan Struve in the co-main event of Sunday’s card in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and celebrates the fact that he’s 100 percent healthy for his 10th UFC fight.

"I had a great camp at American Top Team," Silva told MMA Fighting. "I’m 100 percent, no injuries. For the first time, I’m going to a fight with no injuries. I did a great camp and I’m ready for three great rounds."

Struve looks to rebound from a lackluster loss to Jared Rosholt in November, three months after defeating Silva’s friend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in Brazil, and "Bigfoot" is confident he knows how to beat the Dutch heavyweight in front of his countrymen.

"I saw a lot of openings in his game," said the Brazilian. "He has many qualities, but also does some mistakes, and we’ll explore that. The most important is that I’m physically and mentally well. I will explore those mistakes and try to finish the fight as fast as possible.

"I had the help of a tall guy who emulated his game for me," he continued. "He did everything Struve does, like that front kick, the leg kick. He did everything Struve does best, and the fact that he’s that tall is not something new to me. I’ve fought some tall guys before, like Travis Browne, so that won’t be a problem."

Winner of three of nine UFC fights, "Bigfoot" knows that he has his back against the wall at UFC Fight Night 87, but tries to stay away from negative thoughts in order to get another victory inside the Octagon.

"A fight is always a surprise, you never know what’s going to happen," Silva said. "I think I really had to go through all that. I learned a lot with everything that happened. I have changed a lot of things the way I train and my trainers in 2016, and I will be different this time.

"Pressure always exists, that’s normal, especially if you’re an employee, but I don’t want to have this pressure over my shoulders. I know that if I get in there calm and do what I did in training, I will get a positive result, for sure. The important is to take my time and do what I have to do to win."

"Bigfoot" scored his last five victories by knockout or TKO, including a dominating win over Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce, and plans on coming back to his roots and using his ground and pound skills against "Skyscraper".

"He’s a great athlete, his striking is dangerous and he’s a not fool on the ground, but I have in my mind that I’m going to win," Silva said. "If I have to stand with him, I will go for it. If he gives me the opportunity to take him down… The most important is to get the victory no matter how.

"MMA is a mix of martial arts and I have to be ready to do everything," he continued. "That’s what I always tried to do, evolve standing and on the ground. I have to be complete. Fabricio Werdum, for an example, is a well-rounded fighter. You have to be good everywhere, but I will come back to my roots if I have to. It will be worth it."