It’s been years since Wanderlei Silva prepared for a fight in his native Brazil, but that changed Saturday when the former Pride champion touched down in Curitiba. Silva will train at Andre Dida’s Evolucao Thai camp to make final preparations for his June 23 bout against Vitor Belfort at UFC 147 in Belo Horizonte.
Dida spoke this week with Sherdog.com about working with the “Axe Murderer,” his assessment of Belfort, and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua’s next fight.
Sherdog.com: When did Silva arrive in Curitiba and when will he start training?
Dida: Wand arrived on Saturday, coming from Kings MMA [in Huntington Beach, Calif.], and he’ll finish his camp for the fight against Vitor here at Evolucao Thai. The sparring partners are set, the strategy is set. Wand was happy here because he saw enough athletes are southpaw, and we have some that mimic Vitor’s fighting style very well. We leave here for victory in Belo Horizonte.
Sherdog.com: It’s been a long time since Wanderlei prepared for a fight in Brazil. Do you remember the last time?
Dida: From what I remember, it’s been five or six years. He always trains at Kings or in Las Vegas at his own academy. Rafael [Cordeiro] is coming to help also, and perhaps he’ll bring Babalu [Renato Sobral]. Wand has trained wrestling there in the U.S. and is very well. He came to Curitiba, which is the breadbasket of muay Thai and has lots of good people here. If he needs help in jiu-jitsu, Sergio Moraes is here to help.
Sherdog.com: When was the last time the three of you trained together?
Dida: It was for Shogun’s fight against Forrest Griffin, we trained there in California. Wand and Shogun always work well together. The way it goes, friends only found themselves in brawling. (laughs)
Sherdog.com: You spoke of Sergio Moraes. How has it been working with him at Evolucao Thai?
Dida: It seems like Sergio has been here for about eight months, but he’s only been here for two. He has adapted very well. He’s at home and everyone likes him. And, you know, if you go to the floor with him, close your eyes! We’re working on Sergio’s muay Thai. He’s talented, and he learns everything we teach quickly.
Sherdog.com: How do you rate Wanderlei’s opponent, Vitor Belfort?
Dida: We know how Vitor fights. He has a bad psychology, and we’ll use it in our favor. Wand is a very experienced athlete. I hope for a busy fight. We’re working with the possibility of a five-round fight, and we know it will be a long fight because Vitor doesn’t risk much.
Sherdog.com: And what about Shogun’s opponent, Thiago Silva?
Dida: The fight matches up well. Mauricio showed against Dan Henderson that, in order to defeat him, his opponent will have to do a lot, be very well prepared. This year will be Shogun’s year. He’ll come with everything. The crowd can expect knockouts from Wand and Mauricio.
Alan Oliveira contributed to this report.