On Sept. 11, injured featherweight champion Jose Aldo withdrew from his scheduled title defense against Frankie Edgar, leaving UFC 153 without a main event. A day later, Ultimate Fighting Championship officials announced a new headliner: Anderson Silva vs. Stephan Bonnar.
As one of the men charged with training Silva, Corinthians Training Center boss Ramon Lemos lent his expertise to the middleweight king ahead of his non-title matchup with Bonnar on Oct. 13 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will mark Silva’s first appearance at 205 pounds in more than three years.
In this exclusive interview with Sherdog.com, Lemos discusses the abbreviated training camp at Corinthians, the strengths that Bonnar wields as an opponent and the challenges that come with motivating the most dominant champion in UFC history.
Sherdog.com: What are your thoughts on this short-notice appointment?
Lemos: Yeah, it’s one more fight. Despite what everyone thinks -- that it will be an easy fight -- it’s the most important fight of our lives, especially with it being in our country in a sport that continues to grow there. It’s a very good fight for Anderson’s career. He’s in shape, coming off his recent camp for the Chael Sonnen fight. We had one month before this next battle. I’m confident, and I’m sure we’ll thrill the crowd.
Sherdog.com: You were in Sao Paulo leading the Corinthians Training Center, and your next camp was supposed to be with dos Santos starting in October. Now, you have Silva and Nogueira to train. What is your schedule like?
Lemos: I continue to coordinate the training at Corinthians, where we have great coaches. As with any team, when a coach needs to travel with an athlete, others assume responsibilities. We have everything organized there at Corinthians. Everyone knows what needs to be done by November. We’ll finish the job with Anderson and “Minotauro” on Oct. 13, and two days later, I’ll start with “Cigano.” Training will be in Rio and Sao Paulo. That’s it; let’s work. Training generates income, and income generates opportunity.
Sherdog.com: How does having just a month to prepare affect Silva’s training?
Lemos: There’s no time to put together a specific three-month plan, so in this month, I’ll have to cut Anderson’s weight. I’ll try to do the weight cut earlier so he can train at his fighting weight. I have to work 100 percent of the time on fighting -- 15 minutes if it’s three rounds, 30 if it’s five. Usually, we start gradually: one workout per day, then two, then three. Now, I have to get in two workouts per day for better fitness.
Sherdog.com: Where will training take place?
Lemos: This month, we will have a week-and-a-half at Corinthians in Sao Paulo and another week-and-a-half in Rio.
Sherdog.com: Bonnar is a Carlson Gracie student, and Lyoto Machida fought him in Jungle Fight. He was largely responsible for the boom of MMA in the United States after the fight against Forrest Griffin at “The Ultimate Fighter 1” Finale. Have you started studying him as an opponent?
Lemos: I don’t see him as someone who specializes in one thing but instead does everything well. He’s not an expert in either area, but he strikes well and knows the ground game. I will focus on Anderson’s qualities -- Anderson the smasher, the killer. Bonnar will have to defend himself, because Anderson is coming to rip his head off.
Sherdog.com: What is the difference between this camp and the preparation for Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort?
Lemos: When we face an opponent, we know his powers and qualities. Even if the guy has a very good weapon, I have to train to defeat it. Sonnen and Belfort were two top athletes with their own skill sets. Vitor had the most dangerous hands and powerful ground-and-pound. Sonnen doesn’t have strong standup, but I don’t know anyone who has not been taken down by him. I worry too much, just as I am worrying for this fight now. Nobody wins through money, fame or the media. The fighter has to go out there and defeat his opponent, especially when you’re on top. When you’re on top, a lot of people want to knock you off the mountain. I know that Bonnar is our opponent, and I’m focused on him.
Sherdog.com: After all he has achieved, what is the secret to keeping Anderson motivated?
Lemos: Unfortunately, Brazil has a culture of amnesia. The guy in the news, the champion, is the guy who they’ll idolize. All he has to do is lose two fights and everyone forgets what he did and starts to idolize another guy. My biggest motivation is to remind Anderson where he came from. I remind him of the difference between where he used to live and where he lives today. He has a much more comfortable lifestyle now, but we have to maintain it. You can make money, but the money gets used up. You can have all the fame in the world, but the body ages. One day, someone is going to be better than you. All we can do is do our best today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I know that today I’m 100 percent and will give 100 percent. I have Anderson a motto before he fought Sonnen, and he repeated it many times before the fight: “If you dedicate yourself 100 percent and train 100 percent, the result can only be 100 percent.”