Coming off the biggest win of his career, a 10-minute drubbing of former Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko, Silva was poised to face Overeem in the second round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
It was a highly anticipated bout with Overeem being the Strikeforce heavyweight champ, and Silva fresh off his destruction of the fighter most believed to be the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time. Unfortunately, Overeem suffered an injury that forced him out of the fight and the tournament and Silva never got his shot.
Now at UFC 156, Silva will finally step in the cage with Overeem, and he’s got a bit of a chip on his shoulder. Overeem is a heavy favorite, but he’s also almost universally being anointed as the next heavyweight contender to face champion Cain Velasquez.
It’s almost like he didn’t even have to fight Silva on Saturday night.
“For him this fight (is) for the belt (but) he still has to go thought me on Feb. 2. I’m used to being the underdog and it just makes me stronger,” Silva told MMAWeekly.com.
Silva and Overeem have been intertwined even after the Strikeforce fight didn’t happen in 2011. The Brazilian had followed some of his teammates, including Jorge Santiago and Gesias “JZ” Cavalcante, to the new team they founded in Florida that would eventually be called The Blackzilians.
Training was going well for Silva, but then he heard the news that Overeem was joining the team, and something had to change. Silva knew deep down that eventually he was going to fight Overeem, and so he packed his bags and returned to his former trainers at American Top Team.
Like a clairvoyant, sure enough Silva got the fight, but while Overeem’s name has been attached to a title fight, the same can’t be said for the Brazilian. Silva pays that no mind, he just wants to beat Overeem, and position himself for big things in 2013.
“He is third in the ranking, so I think after this fight I’ll be up there. I don’t really worry about where I’m going to be, I just want to fight and win,” said Silva.
Silva knows that a lot of fans are already booking on a fight between Overeem and Velasquez, and the oddsmakers and media can count him out, but none of that matters.
One person that better take this fight seriously is Alistair Overeem, because if he’s not, Antonio Silva promises to make him pay for it.
“This is good for me because he thinks this is going to be an easy fight,” said Silva. “But when we get in that cage I’ll show him that he was wrong.”