Antonio Silva (above) was recently critical of Josh Barnett and Brock Lesnar. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Since pummeling Fedor Emelianenko into near-retirement in February, Antonio Silva has faced a marathon of interviews, photo shoots and other business outside of the cage. But the only question the 6-foot-4 Brazilian wants answered is who he will face in the semifinals of Strikeforce’s 2011 heavyweight grand prix: close friend Fabricio Werdum or reigning Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.
During a recent trip to Los Angeles, amidst a slew of media appearances, Silva found time to visit Werdum at Kings MMA in Huntington Beach, Calif. While there, “Bigfoot” made the decision neither to train with Werdum, nor his friend and admired coach Rafael Cordeiro.
“I didn’t bring training gear with me to L.A., and I didn’t think it would be good for me and Werdum in terms of media,” Silva told Sherdog.com. “Like it or not, Werdum, I’m sure of it, will face me in the semifinals. I’m sure the guys there wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I decided not to train. I just went to see the gym, see friends like [Werdum], master Rafael Cordeiro, Andre “Dida” [Amado]. Everyone received me very well and I made sure I praised Cordeiro for his time, for the facilities he’s built for the fighters.”
Regardless of the opponent, a tough fight awaits Silva in the next round of the loaded tournament. However, Silva has already set his sights on a finals matchup with a fighter from the other side of the bracket: onetime UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett. According to Silva, the “Babyfaced Assassin” has been hostile in private, particularly to Brazilians, while publicly displaying his sweet side to the celebrities of the MMA world.
“I’ve been fighting since 2004 and have never had any issues with another athlete, even the most stuck-up,” explained Silva. “Friendship, for me, is everything, but Josh is a weird guy, a guy who doesn’t greet you when you enter the elevator, doesn’t even say ‘good morning.’ It’s how he treats Brazilian fighters especially. It’s the same thing with [Barnett and] Werdum.
“But when [Barnett] sees Fedor, [UFC President] Dana White or [UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo] Fertitta, he runs to them and stays by their side all the time. He makes me sick. He’s the classic kiss-ass, a rude man …” added Silva. “I really want to face Barnett and I’ve already said I consider him a filthy person, even though he is a great fighter, and that I’ll beat him up and close both of his eyes.”
Silva’s acidic quotes continued when asked his opinion of former UFC heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar, who last week withdrew from his June 11 bout with Junior dos Santos due to a second flare-up of diverticulitis.
“I don’t want to judge anyone and I really wish it’s not a big health problem for [Lesnar], but I have some doubts,” Silva said. “That big guy doesn’t like being punched. In his last fights, he was put in the fetal position by Shane Carwin and Cain Velasquez, which is humiliating for a fighter. I think he pulled out of the fight against ‘Cigano,’ who is a real heavy puncher and a real tough opponent for someone who doesn’t like being punched.”
While Silva hopes to join the likes of Lesnar and Velasquez in the Octagon someday, for now, his eye is on winning the Strikeforce tournament.
“No doubt, it’s a dream not only for me, but for every athlete, to fight in the UFC,” he affirmed, “but it’s something I’m planning for the future only. I believe the Strikeforce tournament champion will face the UFC champion. That’s what people have been talking about. I hope it comes true, but that fight wouldn’t be until next year. I hope I can get both belts. It would be a dream come true. Everyone wants to know who the best fighter in the world is and they’ll have that chance in the future. If I win both belts, you can be sure I’ll spend at least two months just drinking coconut water and driving Jet Skis in Paraiba with my family.”
Colin Foster contributed to this report.