Roughly a year before Anderson Silva began his remarkable run in the UFC, Jorge Rivera fought him at Cage Rage 11 in London.
Rivera was stopped in the second round, but he did gain the experience of having stepped into the cage with the sport’s pound-for-pound best. In a recent interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” show, Rivera discussed that fight, what makes Silva great and much more.
On fighting Silva: “It was a long eight, nine minutes. The first thing that comes to mind is he was very accurate with his punches and he could take a good punch. I felt like he was extremely technical. Like he could pick apart the fight whenever he wanted to -- that’s what I felt like, that [he was] very in control of everything.”
On whether he believed Silva was one of the best after fighting him: “I knew that, but I felt like we knew that going into that fight. There were rumors about him over at Chute Boxe, having wars with Wanderlei [Silva] and coming out on top. I was already worried about how good he was. I would watch him in Pride, and the one thing that stuck in my mind the most was his knee against Carlos Newton. I was a big Carlos Newton fan, and he ran through Carlos Newton in that fight as well. I knew he was very good. I knew that we hadn’t seen just how good he was yet.”
On being in the clinch with Silva: “The first thing that came to my mind when I locked up with him was his strength. He doesn’t look nearly as strong as he is. He’s very, very strong. He’s a genius. He knows how to find good leverage. He has a way of making you feel every 185 pounds of him in there. You’re going to feel his body weight.”
On Silva’s ability to dodge and absorb punches: “Maybe it’s the ability to read the body well, and it’s also his ability to take a good punch. He’s got a good-size head. He’s got a good, strong neck. He can take a good punch, but it may just be his natural God-given ability to read the human body well, to understand how it’s all connected and to be able to, with the eye, dissect it and know when it’s coming just by reading the shoulders and the hips and everything else.”
On Silva dropping his hands and playing with opponents: “For me personally, that’s psychologically just demoralizing. You start to second-guess yourself. You’re looking at the guy and you’re wondering, what does he have? What does he know that’s allowing him to do this? What’s he going to come at me with? Every single move that you have, you’re wondering whether it’s going to be the right move, and then if you get caught, it compounds the situation. It makes it even worse. Now not only are you second-guessing yourself, you’re paying for it. It’s a tough, tough situation.”
On actually hitting Silva: “I hit him with four right hands. They were grazing his left arm, but I gave him four pretty good shots to the face. The guy turned around and winked at me. Turned around and winked at me, literally winked at me.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 20:58).