Silva Aims to KO Machida at UFC 94

After taking a month off to treat a back injury, Thiago Silva has returned to training in preparation for his bout with fellow unbeaten Lyoto Machida at UFC 94 “St. Pierre vs. Penn 2” on Jan. 31 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Silva, who has delivered all but one of his wins by knockout or submission, sat down with Sherdog.com’s Marcelo Alonso to discuss his looming showdown with Machida, his union with American Top Team and his future in the UFC.

Q: What injury forced you postpone your fight against Machida at UFC 89?
A: About three weeks before our fight, I pinched a nerve in one of the discs in my back and lost the power in my lumbar muscles. I stopped training for a month and only did physiotherapy and strengthening of my back muscles. About one month ago, I returned to training, and now I’m already feeling ready to fight.

Q: How do you plan to beat Machida?
A: My plan is to attack him all the time.

Q: What about his dangerous counter attack game? Aren’t you concerned about that?
A: The opponents who have faced him attacked and stopped; I’ll have a different gameplan. I want to see how he deals with someone who’s in very good shape and attacks him for five minutes over three rounds. I’m not underestimating him. He’s a great fighter, but I’d bet on me. I’m not here to joke around. I have my goals, and I’m ready to beat Lyoto.

Q: If you had to predict the outcome of this fight, what would you say?
A: It will be a knockout in the first round.

Q: Which of Machida’s fight impressed you the most?
A: I don’t know. Actually, there aren’t any of his fights I really like. Lyoto’s a fighter who runs more than he fights. He’s not a fighter who will knock me out easily. He scores points, and I’ll make it hard for him to score. I already faced the toughest fighters. I believe it will be more of a psychological fight than a physical fight for me.

Q: Which fighters have you faced that you believe are tougher than Machida?
A: Houston Alexander, Tomasz Drwal, James Irvin. Actually, I’ve only faced tough fighters in the UFC -- just like Lyoto -- who already defeated many top fighters. I’m on my way to the title. I want this belt, and it will be mine

Q: If you beat Machida, what are the plans? Do you believe you will have to face someone else before getting a title shot?
A: I believe beating Lyoto will make me more than qualified to fight for the belt. I’m undefeated. If I beat Lyoto, I want the title shot. I don’t want another fight. Actually, it depends on my manager, Alex Davis. He’s the one who will argue about that, but if I win this fight, I don’t believe there’s a reason to postpone a title shot.

Q: What memories do you have from the time you spent training at the Chute Boxe Academy?
A: I only have great memories from my experience at Chute Boxe. For me, it was the best experience of my life. I learned all my muay Thai there. I owe a lot to master Rafael [Cordeiro] and Rudimar [Fedrigo]. Wanderlei [Silva], [Mauricio] “Shogun” [Rua] and all the Chute Boxe people always gave me great support during the time I was there. Chute Boxe was a family to me. Their training added a lot to me as a fighter and as a person.

Q: What would it be like if you had to face Wanderlei Silva or “Shogun” Rua?
A: I wouldn’t like to face friends like them, but I’m a professional, and everybody has the same goal. My dream is the most important in that case.

Q: Do you believe Rashad Evans can beat light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 92 later this month?
A: I think Rashad’s in an excellent phase in his career. He surprised me a lot againt Liddell. I believe he’ll win by knockout or by using his ground-and-pound game. I love tough challenges, and, if I beat Lyoto, I’d love to face him for the belt, because it would be a challenge between two undefeated fighters.

Q: What about the UFC 92 matchup between Wanderlei Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson?
A: They’re two top athletes, but, as we use to say training at Chute Boxe, Wanderlei’s the crazy dog. He has an excellent striking game and never steps back. I bet on Wanderlei.

Q: How would you describe your experience at American Top Team?
A: I’ve been living here in the U.S. for almost eight months. It’s been an unbelievable experience. I’m very happy here, and I don’t want to return to Brazil. I’m training in a very professional camp, which feels more like a family. I believe soon ATT will be recognized as the biggest MMA team in the world. Our goal is to have at least one belt in each category, and everybody’s working hard for that. Besides great training partners, we have great trainers like Mohamed Ouali [for muay Thai], [Marcos] “Parrumpinha” [DaMatta for jiu-jitsu], Conan [Silveira for MMA] and André “Benkei” [Vinicius Aurnheimer Ferreira], who’s the best physical trainer I’ve ever met and one of the best in the world.

Q: After his impressive win over Randy Couture at UFC 91, do you see anyone beating Brock Lesnar?
A: Lesnar proved to be a great fighter, but I believe [Antonio] “Minotauro” [Rodrigo Nogueira] will win, and [Frank] Mir has good chance to beat Lesnar again, too. Lesnar needs to train a lot of boxing to try an put him down with his hands. If “Minotauro” can take him down, he will win easy.

Q: Your ex-rival in Brazil, Luis “Banha” Arthur Cane, is moving up the UFC ladder after his impressive win over Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at UFC 89. Do you believe we’ll see a fight between you two one day?
A: That’s true. “Banha” rose very fast in the UFC. I’ve followed his career, since we started almost at the same time. He’s a really talented fighter. He has everything to be among the top 10 soon, but he has to improve a lot as a person and stop talking s--t about people he doesn’t know. When he gets his mind straight, he’ll go up faster.
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