Anderson Silva is no longer holding his tongue when it comes to Chael Sonnen.
The trend started last week on a media conference call during which Silva (Pictured, file photo) asserted that he would cause serious bodily harm to the American in their rematch at UFC 148, predicting that Sonnen would leave the Octagon with broken arms, legs and teeth. The traditionally reserved UFC middleweight champion maintained his momentum through Tuesday’s press conference in Las Vegas, answering directly when asked for his pre-fight prediction.
“I believe it’s going to end in the first round,” Silva said of Saturday’s main event at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. “I’m going to hit him, and then I’m going to hit him some more. Then I’m going to hit him even more. Then he’s going to try to grab onto me, and I’m going to keep hitting him until he gives up.”
Silva’s first clash with Sonnen nearly two years ago at UFC 117 is regarded by many as one of the greatest comebacks in the history of the organization. The American took charge early in that confrontation, cracking Silva with a straight left and planting him on the canvas. Sonnen continued to take “The Spider” to the mat for the better part of five rounds, punishing the Brazilian with ground-and-pound until Silva locked up a fight-ending triangle choke with just under two minutes remaining in the bout.
Since the defeat, Sonnen has navigated several speed bumps, including a felony money laundering conviction related to mortgage fraud in his home state of Oregon and a suspension from the California State Athletic Commission handed down after Sonnen produced a highly elevated testosterone-to-epitestosterone ratio in his UFC 117 drug test. Now approved for a therapeutic use exemption for testosterone in Nevada, Sonnen enters his rematch with Silva riding back-to-back wins over Brian Stann and Michael Bisping.
UFC President Dana White has gone on record as saying that Silva did not want to give Sonnen a rematch due to the disrespectful nature of Sonnen’s now infamous pre-fight banter. Known more for his elite wrestling base than his skills on the mic early in his career, Sonnen has used his second run with the UFC as a platform to speak his mind in the public forum, calling out Silva on a number of personal fronts.
Despite his distaste for Sonnen’s methods of self-promotion, the champion eventually signed on the dotted line and granted the challenger his rematch. Though the bad blood between the two men has come to a boil in recent days, Silva says that even after all of Sonnen’s pre-fight talk, he still plans to show the challenger respect when the dust has settled in the cage.
“At the end of the day, this is a sporting event. I’ve trained martial arts my whole life, and one thing that was taught to me was to respect all my opponents,” Silva said. “He falls under the same category. I’m going to respect him, because that’s how I was raised, and I was trained to think that way.”