Anderson Silva’s World

By Caesar Garcia Feb 28, 2008
Whoever said nice guys finish last never met Anderson Silva.

Of course, watching him fight, you would never think that. Inside the Octagon, Silva is as vicious a fighter as there ever was. He punishes opponents to the point that you might actually begin to show some concern for their well being, when minutes earlier you were hoping that same opponent would get knocked out in highlight-reel fashion. Just not that bad.

The thing is, he never actually gets mad at anybody.

You get the feeling that if someone mugged him, he'd happily hand over his wallet and say, "That's OK, he needs it more than I do."

Ask Silva about his next opponent -- in this case, Dan Henderson (Pictures) on Saturday -- and the UFC middleweight champion doesn't go off on a long rhyming diatribe that ends with him predicting a victory. He gives credit where credit is due and just calls it a challenge.

"I respect him a lot," Silva says. "He's a great champion. Business is business. I'm prepared to fight the best, and if he's the best, that's what I'm here for."

It's no concern to him that Henderson has said that Silva isn't the top pound-for-pound fighter. That Silva's ground game isn't great despite being a black belt under Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures). That his victories are a byproduct of having fought guys that complement his style.

Without a care, Silva shrugs. He just seems happy to be fighting. It doesn't matter against whom.

Then what does? Does he want to secure his legacy? Or maybe live up to the "pound-for-pound best" tag he's recently been anointed with?

"A fight is a fight," Silva says. "If I get through the Henderson fight with a victory and bring the belt back to my camp, then at that point in time I'll focus on the next match. There's really no time to be thinking about legacies."

How proper.

"He's just doing what he loves to do," adds Silva's manager, Ed Soares. "It's like when they ask him how he feels about being the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. The only way he'll say that is after he's retired. He could sit back and say, ‘You know what? I was the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world at that point.' But until then it's hard for him to say he's the best pound-for-pound fighter."

Basically, Silva is just following the road where life took him. Ask him how he became a fighter: "It just happened." Really, he followed in the footsteps of his brother, who trained in muay Thai and had a lot of friends who fought. At about 9 years old, Silva began training in tae kwon do.

The UFC middleweight champion never expected to be where he is today. He never trained -- or, for that matter, trains -- with the goal of being the best or even being a champion.

He's not chasing glory either. He's one of those guys that Evan Tanner (Pictures) calls a "soul fighter." A fighter "who cares very little for fame, glory or money."

To a soul fighter, fighting is a search of the self -- it is a challenge. Those are soul fighters, and Silva is one.

He's not arrogant about his talent, just grateful for it.

And if there's one attribute about him that sticks out the most, it's confidence. Enough of it to one day even challenge a top boxer to a fight, and perhaps sooner than most think.

"Maybe after this fight," says Silva, who if he beats Henderson will pretty much have cleaned out the UFC's middleweight division. "I'll challenge whoever is the champion [in my weight range] in boxing."

Or, if not a champion, perhaps the boxer he respects and admires the most, Roy Jones, Jr.

A joke? Well, according to Soares, maybe not.

"Anything is possible," Soares says. "At the end of the day, that's a fight that would sell to both markets [boxing and MMA], so why not do it? Let's find a promoter that will put up the money, and lets do it! And we fight him in boxing, not MMA. His rules."

Would Silva, who has one professional boxing bout on his record (a knockout victory in the second round), stand a chance against one of boxing's all-time best? Over the hill or not?

Well, he submitted a jiu-jitsu black belt in Travis Lutter (Pictures), one of the best ground guys in the UFC. He outmuscled Rich Franklin (Pictures), who was supposedly the strongest fighter in the middleweight division, and he outgunned Nate Marquardt, one of the most skilled fighters in the sport.

It would have to be soon, though, since Jones is on his way out as a boxer and Silva says he plans on fighting for only three more years.

Then perhaps Silva could dedicate himself to his favorite downtime activity: playing video games. It's a hobby that surely keeps Soares at ease and is another testament of how Silva is truly like Tom Hanks in the movie "Big."

"It definitely could be worse," says Soares.

The fighter loves playing video games so much that at a Maxim-promoted event, he once shunned a chance to meet Michael Jackson just to play some of the games that were being displayed at the party. Silva, who does not drink or smoke, will also endorse a new Tom Clancy game on his fight shorts in his title defense in Columbus, Ohio.

Fighting is clearly Silva's first love, and his jiu-jitsu coach, Giorge Martins, says the UFC champion is an even better trainer than mixed martial artist. Believable given the fact that one of Silva's current understudies, Rafael Feijao, won in spectacular fashion on the Kimbo vs. Tank EliteXC card and is beginning to make some serious noise in the light heavyweight division.

Or maybe if he's out there, Silva could take on the only other fighter he's dared to call out.

Who?

"My clone," he says with a confident smile.
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