When Anderson Silva finally walks away from the UFC, he may go down as the greatest champion that ever set foot in the Octagon.
But for all the talk about his eventual retirement, Silva is more motivated than ever coming off a tough win over Chael Sonnen, preparing to face former training partner Vitor Belfort at UFC 126.
Training only in his home country of Brazil for the fight, Silva has a renewed vigor. His manager, Ed Soares, isn’t sure what in particular lit the fire under the UFC’s reigning middleweight champion, but the flame is white hot heading into Saturday night’s main event.
“He’s very motivated for this fight. I haven’t seen Anderson this motivated for a fight in a long time,” Soares told MMAWeekly Radio. “I don’t know what it is (that is motivating him for this fight). I just know that for one reason or another he’s very focused and motivated for this fight.
“He likes training in Brazil. At the end of the day, it’s his home, and he likes it. He wanted to be near his kids, especially during the holidays. It would have been difficult training in a foreign country, especially without your kids.”
Heading into his last fight, Silva was dealing with a sore rib suffered just a week out from his bout against Chael Sonnen. Following the fight, Silva took some much needed time off to recover and now that he’s at 100 percent it’s a whole new ballgame.
Some have speculated that there is some sort of rivalry or maybe pride on the line when the two Brazilians step into the Octagon. Soares downplays the chatter, but says there’s a definite mutual respect that could lead to a very exciting fight.
“I think Vitor respects Anderson a lot, his stand-up game. Vitor is a very good boxer, he’s got great hands, but Anderson’s got great hands also. Neither one has ever been knocked out. They both can take a good punch,” Soares commented. “Anderson’s got maybe a few more weapons standing up because he’s got the clinch, the knees, the kicks. Vitor has knees and kicks too, but I don’t think they’re as good as Anderson’s knees and kicks.
“But Vitor is a very dangerous guy and very technical. I think that it could be one of the greatest fights in middleweight history.”
Being a part of big fights is nothing new for Anderson Silva or Vitor Belfort. For Silva’s part, his second fight in the UFC was against Rich Franklin with the middleweight title on the line.
Since that time, Silva has either been in title fights or co-main event bouts throughout his UFC career. The fight with Belfort will be no different.
What is different however is Silva’s mentality. If he’s entering the twilight of his career, you couldn’t tell it to listen to him. Silva is having fun training and is excited to fight again, and a motivated yet carefree Anderson Silva could be the scariest fighter yet.
“I’m doing what I’m doing because I love doing it,” Silva said recently. “I’m well trained, I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, so I feel very natural. I’m not doing this for the fame, I’m not doing it for the money, I’m not doing it for the belt. I’m doing it because I love doing it.”
If all of the training pays off, Silva could walk out of UFC 126 with his 13th straight win in the Octagon, and ninth consecutive title defenses.