As he awaits the call for his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut, former EliteXC heavyweight champion Antonio Silva has gone about the business of shoring up his weaknesses under the Team Nogueira banner.
Silva (16-3) has not fought since being knocked out by the unbeaten Daniel Cormier in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix semifinals in September. The defeat halted a three-fight winning streak for the 32-year-old Brazilian, which included wins over Russian great Fedor Emelianenko and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski.
“I’m doing very specific work in boxing and kickboxing to correct my mistakes,” Silva told Sherdog.com. “To make a mistake is human, but to remain in error is stupid. I fought two fighters from the American Kickboxing Academy, and they knocked me down. Against Mike Kyle, I was able to recover and win the fight, but against Cormier, I got knocked out for the first time in 20 fights.
“The people in my camp saw where the mistakes were, so now I’m going to train, train and train some more to fix it,” he added. “I’m also training jiu-jitsu in the gi, doing strength work and following a good diet in order to lose weight and improve my speed.”
Silva, who underwent shoulder surgery in November following his loss to Cormier, does not yet have a date or an opponent for his first UFC bout, though he expects to hear from matchmakers soon. Rumors of a potential matchup with onetime UFC heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez have cooled.
“Several things have been said, but nothing is 100 percent yet,” Silva said. “As I always say, ‘Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.’ Two weeks after my surgery, I started training to get ready for when the opportunity appears. I’m eager to fight again, and when they put me inside that Octagon, I’ll always try to have good fights.”
Though he no longer flies the Strikeforce flag, Silva will watch with personal interest when Cormier meets Josh Barnett in the heavyweight grand prix final, likely in the first or second quarter of 2012.
“I’ll root for Cormier, who’s a great guy, but I think it’s going to be kind of hard for him to win,” Silva said. “Barnett is a more complete fighter, with good boxing, wrestling and ground skills. The only chance for Cormier is to land a big punch, like he did on me, but I think it will be Barnett who wins.”
Silva admits a part of him was saddened when Zuffa LLC officials elected to dissolve the Strikeforce heavyweight division and fold it into the UFC.
“I’m sorry for that,” he said. “They could have left it as a gateway for the weight class, but it would have sort of been a second division to the premier league -- the UFC.”
Allan Oliveira contributed to this report.