Y! Sports Q&A: Wanderlei Silva
By Yahoo! Sports Staff
October 16, 2007
Wanderlei Silva is one of the most popular mixed martial artists on the planet, and for good reason. Few fighters embody the concept of fighting spirit as well as the warrior from Brazil. The former Pride champion and future Hall of Famer doesn’t duck any tough questions from readers in our latest Y! Sports Q&A.
Still want Chuck?
Due to Chuck Liddell's recent two losses and, specifically, his last loss against Keith Jardine, does a fight with Chuck mean the same to you now as it would have when Chuck held the belt?
Leamington, Ont., Canada
I've wanted to fight Chuck for a long time. I think about having that fight a lot because our styles are very similar – he is a very good striker like me. It's no problem that he is not the champion. After I beat Chuck, then I want to fight the champion.
Are you worried about receiving too many concussions and how that will effect you later in life? Are you still affiliated with Chute Boxe and Shogun Rua in any way or are you all separate now? Would you fight Shogun if the UFC asked?
I have only one problem in my head, and that is that I am only more hungry to win. I'm training very hard this time around, because I need to give my next victory to my fans. I am not affiliated with Chute Boxe. We are separated, because I wanted to start my own team. I don't want to fight Shogun, because he is a good friend. I've trained with him for 10 years, so for me that fight would be very hard. There are a lot of other light heavyweights I could fight.
Steroids? Do you think that the lack of drug testing and possible use of substances banned in UFC and not tested for in Pride have anything to do with the struggles that the majority of Pride fighters are having in the UFC? If not, why do you think these fighters are having such a problem transitioning to the UFC?
Actually, they do test in Japan. I was tested before and after my fights in Japan. But if you are thinking of Mirko (Cro Cop) and Shogun as examples, Mirko may have lost because he has so many other things going on in his life, such as his duty in government, and his business. Shogun went through a lot of changes before he fought in the UFC. He changed his home, he changed his training, and he changed fighting organizations. I don't know why they lost their fights in the UFC; only Shogun and Mirko understand the reasons why they lost.
Ring vs. octagon
Is the fact that you have been fighting in the smaller surface area of the Pride ring a negative factor when it comes to fighting in the octagon? Does it affect the footwork that you have become used to?
I think the space for me is good because I like to fight standing up. I am training now only in the octagon and it's good because I want to train for every situation. I want to be ready for the fight to go to the ground or standing up. I like the octagon because there are no corners; there is nowhere for my opponent to go.
What happened against Hendu?
In the Dan Henderson fight you did not look like your old self. You appeared a little gun shy during the bout. Was this something you were conscious of at the time? How do you feel looking back at the fight now?
I was sick before the fight. I had a fever and a sore throat. But I don't use that as an excuse – I had a job to do and so I went to fight. For this fight, this time around, I will have it easier. I live in Las Vegas now, so I live here and train here, and when it is time to fight, I can go right from my house. I don't have to worry about the travel, or flying, or staying in a hotel. I've adjusted to the climate here and I will be in good shape for my next fight.
Looking back at that fight, it only motivates me more. I'm really happy now, and excited to be fighting in the top organization, the UFC. I don't think about my losses. I only think about winning my next fight and preparing for my next fight.
How do you spend the last few days before a fight? Are you ever nervous and do you have any habits or superstitions that you repeat before your matches?
I'm always very excited during this time because I have been training three or four months to prepare for the fight. I check my weight three times a day, in the morning, the afternoon and the night the whole week of the fight. I have to drop weight all those days, and I also need to make sure I sleep well. I try to sleep eight or nine hours a night during those days, but sometimes it's hard because I'll wake up during the night, and start thinking about the fight. I also have to be careful not to cause any injuries during this time, and stay 100 percent focused.
I don't have any superstitions, because I am a Christian. I feel God gives me the protection I need. Before I go into the fight, the last thing I do is to talk to God and ask him to give me protection and to help me win the fight.
Given Keith Jardine's recent decision over Chuck Liddell, do you feel that at this point in your career it would be more beneficial to sign a fight with Tito Ortiz? This would allow you to avenge a loss and compete in an instant main event. Have you given any thought to this opportunity?
No, I want to fight Liddell. I've thought about fighting Tito, and if he rises back to the top of the weight class, maybe I would fight him then.
Does your previous success in fights against the UFC light heavyweight champion Quentin "Rampage" Jackson make a potential title match with a fighter you've dominated extremely appealing to you? Finally, other than yourself, who would you list as the top five MMA fighters pound-for-pound in the world today?
Yes, it's a very appealing fight to me. Because the two fights I had with him were good fights. And now he is the champ, so for me it will be a pleasure to fight him. I don't like him very much. So yes, it is an extremely appealing fight for me, because I would get to defeat him and win the belt.
I would say the top fighters pound-for-pound in the light heavyweight class are Shogun, Liddell and Lyoto Machida. Other fighters that I think are good are (Takanori) Gomi, (Gilbert) Melendez, Ninja (Murilo Rua).
Who, in your opinion, is the most underrated fighter among the UFC/Pride contenders?
There are two guys that I think are underrated – Thiago Tavarres and Tyson Griffin. I think both of these guys could fight for the belt in their division, and have a really good chance of winning.
Crowd makes a difference? UFC shows usually have louder but much smaller crowds than Pride had. Do you think the makeup and noise of the crowds will affect you in your future fights?
No, I love that the crowd gets into the fight. That is the way it is in Brazil. I love that emotion, it gives me more energy for the fight. When I throw a punch and I hear the crowd roar, I feel that energy, like a gladiator fighting in the Colosseum.
What kind of training have you been doing? How has your move to the U.S. affected you?
I am training more in boxing and jiu-jitsu. I don't have just one technique, now I have many good techniques. I'm doing a lot of physical training, and training in circuits that are around five minutes long for three rounds, just like the fight.
Overall, the move has been great for me. Everything about it is good, even the food here is better for me – I have more choices of healthy food here in the U.S. than I had in Brazil. Also, I have three coaches here in the U.S. now, just for my training. I have Andre Galvao, who is an 11-time world champion in Jiu-Jitsu, and Ulysses Pereira, who trained a world champion boxer in Brazil. And I have Rafael Alejarra, who is one of the best physical trainers in Brazil.
When you are going to the ring, how do you feel and what is going through your head once you reach the ring?
I am concentrating. I am thinking that I need to give my best and that I need to win. I don't look at the public or the crowd, I am completely focused because in the first few minutes of the fight, the first or the second punch can finish the fight. One technique can finish the fight. After a few minutes, I can relax a little bit, but the first few minutes are very dangerous, so right before and right after the fight starts, I am completely focused on my opponent and the fight.
How has training with Randy Couture, who is known for his "dirty boxing" and hybrid grappling style, helped you for your first fight back in the UFC? Have you trained specifically to use your elbows more?
He is a very busy man. He hasn't had much time to train me but he opened his academy to me and I can train with the other guys, who are all very good fighters – in his academy. I can spar with the guys too, and that has helped me with my boxing training.
I've been training with elbows, yes, and I use my elbows very well. Kicks to the ground are not allowed in UFC rules, like they were in Pride, so I changed my kick to the ground to elbow strikes instead. That's going to be a good weapon for me.
Updated on Tuesday, Oct 16, 2007 2:56 pm, EDT