No Holds Barred: Silva Promises to Leave it All in the Ring

By Gleidson Venga Sep 8, 2006
Wanderlei Silva appreciates challenges.

PRIDE middleweight champion since 2001, the Brazilian decided to test himself in PRIDE’s Open-Weight Grand Prix and now stands on the cusp of solidifying his status as an all-time great.

After beating Kazuyuki Fujita (Pictures) to advance to this weekend’s tournament finale, “The Axe Murderer” faces Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) in one half of the semifinal bracket. If the 30-year-old Silva wins he’ll then have to face the winner between Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) and Josh Barnett (Pictures) the same evening.

For a fighter who says he has yet to reach his limits, the Grand Prix has offered Silva his biggest challenge to date. How are you preparing yourself for this event?

Wanderlei Silva (Pictures): I am in an intense program. In this last week I’ve been working on my cardio and stamina. I have no injuries this time. I’m healthy and weighing 218.5 pounds. I am already used to this weight. I am going there to surprise everybody. I’ve heard that your training sessions with your personal trainer, Rafael Alejarra, have been intense.

Silva: Yes they have. He is developing new machines, new tools. I come to him and say, “I would like to train this kind of thing,” and then he creates a new exercise focused on this point. This kind of job will bring new aspects of trainings to every MMA fighter. And BJJ and Muay Thai training? How have they been?

Silva: I’m working hard. I’m training with the guys in the gym. I’m doing a lot of jiu-jitsu; we have several black belts in the team. Gabriel “Napao” Gonzaga was there to help us, he taught us a lot of good things. We have Nino (Schembri), Cristiano (Marcelo), (Luiz) Azeredo. Everyone focused on this fight. Mirko improved his takedown defense. And about you, how is your training in this aspect?

Silva: It’s good. I’m training with Christopher and Fabio, who are among the best in Brazil. I’m improving my takedowns because this is the point: don’t sleep or I will take you down. I’m good with takedowns and [Mirko] has a good defense. But I’m going there to make a stand-up fight. However, if I need to take him down I will. You participated in other tournaments, but how can you be ready to face two tough fighters in the same evening?

Silva: In this case you must be better prepared than ever because it is impossible for anyone to be 100 percent ready to face two guys like this on the same night. Like I said, I like to be tested and I still didn’t find my limit. I’m close to the point I thought was my limit, but I know now that I can go far. For me it is an excellent opportunity to face such high caliber guys in the same night. I think, with God’s help, if I make it to the final fight this will be the event of my life. One thing I promise: I will do my best and whoever faces me will have hard times. I will go for it. The fact that you faced “Cro Cop” once, will it help you now?

Silva: Not really because each fight has a different history. He is a respected man, an idol. I know this will be a tough fight, but I like this; I like to face tough guys. There are some guys around there who are too cocky, but they only challenge weaker guys. When they think they can have their ass kicked, then they became cans. So I think that a real man walks into a fight even if he’s not sure about winning. I like this; I like to take my chances. I like when they say, “Wow, can he do this?” That’s nice. The bigger the challenge, the more I like it. Who is your bet to win the Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures)-Josh Barnett (Pictures) match?

Silva I think this is 50-50. It will be a hard fight. The American was a UFC champion once, so I think anything can happen. They never fought against each other before, so anything can be a surprise. Can you imagine the repercussion and the significance of a fight between you and “Minotauro”?

Silva: For sure. I’m very anxious for this fight to happen. He is a very nice guy. We are friends, but when I step into the ring I don’t respect anybody. When the fight begins, I walk into the fight like an animal to knockout. I don’t care about how big the guy is or how famous he is. I’m in a phase I think I’m well prepared. I can face anyone and it will not be different against him. There are a lot of people saying things about it, but I don’t care. I’m going to punch faces, to walk into the fight, and I can leave a message. One iron chin has already fallen down. In MMA there are no guys that can’t be knocked out — if the punch hits the chin the guy is KO’d. If I hit the chin, the guy is down. Recently some fighters have said controversial things about you, including Mirko, who said he doesn’t like you and you “have no ethics.” What do you think about that?

Silva: I can say the same about him (laughs). I don’t love him, too. He is too arrogant. He is trying to find fault with me and I don’t care if he doesn’t think I’m a nice guy. To hell with the nice guy stuff; he is too cocky. I don’t want to be his friend or friend to anyone else who doesn’t like me. I don’t want them to like me because when I’m in the ring punches fly to the face. It is not a tenderness time. I am not falling in love with him, and he knows when the fight starts I kick faces. When I fought him I was skinny, around 207 pounds, and I was trying to reach at least 214 pounds. Now I weigh 218 pounds. I’m fine, comfortable, with a hard punch, and I will make him walk back just like the first fight. And he knows it. Anyone can talk; even a parrot can talk. But to do these things is a different question. Chuck Liddell (Pictures), after beating Renato Sobral (Pictures), said that a fight between you and him would be a one round fight.

Silva: For sure. He can’t survive the first round! When I get this guy … I actually don’t know what is happening. There are some people saying this fight will not happen but I would like to make myself clear: I want to fight him. I want it known, I don’t care if I get hurt, I will be healed by November. I want this fight. I want him. I don’t want people saying: “he goes to UFC to take a free promotion.” I don’t know what’s happening. The promoters are taking care of it. I want to shut him up by hitting his mouth. When I spoke in the microphone he was looking at me with a butt face and gave me a little smile because he knows who I am. He had his ass kicked by Quinton Jackson (Pictures) in PRIDE, and if he thinks he will be waiting just to hit me back he will pay for it. I am a Muay Thai fighter. I’m a heavy hitter. If I hit the chin, the guy is down. What can your fans expect about your performance on September 10?

Silva: They can expect a lot of will to fight from me. I’m training as I never trained before in my life. I’ve hired an excellent personal trainer who makes me prepared, who takes care of me, giving me supplies, vitamins. I’m only eating, training and sleeping — nothing else. I’m preparing myself like I never did to please the crowd. I’m going there to give a big show and represent Brazil. The only fear I have is to not fight well, the victory is just a consequence. I like to electrify the crowd, make people shout out, get excited. I know my fans like it and I fight for them. Nowadays even my enemies have turned into my fans. I know they watch me when I fight and they will like what they will see because I’m strong, well prepared and I’m going for knockouts. I always look for the actual fight. I never wait for the next fight, because if I don’t win the first fight, I won’t have the next. So I will go for it. If I have to get hurt, I will fight the next fight hurt. I don’t care. I will go until the end. I will just give up after the fight has already finished. Never before that.
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