Anderson Silva had words for Yushin Okami (left) and Chael Sonnen. | Photo: Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog.com
Middleweight champion Anderson Silva is counting down the days until he defends his title against the world-ranked Yushin Okami and returns to his homeland at UFC 134 on Aug. 27 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Silva does not mince words when it comes to Okami and the training partners with which he has aligned himself.
In an interview on Sunday with O Globo, Brazil’s second largest newspaper, Siva scolded Okami for training with former challenger Chael Sonnen. The Team Quest representative took four rounds from Silva at UFC 117 in August and dominated him for vast portions of the fight before succumbing to a fifth-round triangle choke. After the bout, Sonnen tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone and had his license revoked by the California State Athletic Commission. He later ran afoul of the law, leading to a guilty plea on federal money laundering charges.
“You have to find the best people to train with, and I think [Okami] chose wrong,” Silva said. “I’d never align myself with a loser, a loser in every sense. He didn’t win the fight [between us] and got caught doping. You want to be a champion? Get with good people, with winners. Moreover, Sonnen wasn’t a tough opponent for me. I was injured with cracked ribs and fought five rounds. If I hadn’t been injured, the fight would have been different.”
Although critical of Okami, Silva expects the Japanese brute to be well-prepared when the two collide in their rematch. Okami was the last man to defeat “The Spider,” albeit by disqualification. The UFC middleweight champion already feels the pressure of having to perform in front of the home fans, comparing it to the buildup before an emotionally charged soccer match.
“Brazilians are involved in MMA; they’re talking about it,” Silva said. “Many people call me to talk and to tell me they’ll be at my fight. They want to see me live. It’s a different emotion. I’m starting to feel like Brazil vs. Argentina, not the rivalry but the pressure. I’m trained not to feel pressure, to approach it as just one more fight. And I’ll have to train because [Okami] will be well-trained, just like the Argentines when they come to play here [in soccer].”
Colin Foster and Guilherme Pinheiro contributed to this report.