September 12, 2010

by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com A fighter’s job usually starts and stops with training and then walking into a cage or ring, putting in a night’s work, and then going back home again. A fighter is usually not pulled into the world of promotional politics, but that’s exactly where Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva is stuck right now as he waits to hear word about his next fight.

The Brazilian fighter who recently picked up a one-sided win over former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski has heard all the same rumors that the fans have heard about. Fedor Emelianenko wants to fight Alistair Overeem or Fabricio Werdum. Alistair Overeem wants to fight Fabricio Werdum or Fedor Emelianenko, and the list goes on and on.

The frustration has reached a boiling point with Silva, who believes fighters should fight whoever is put in front of them, and nobody gets to hand pick any opponent.

“A professional athlete should fight whoever they put in front (of them). That’s how real fighters react,” Silva said recently when appearing on MMAWeekly Radio.

There are of course inner workings at Strikeforce, as they try to hammer out a new deal with M-1 Global to extend Fedor Emelianenko’s services beyond the final fight he has on his current contract. Add to that heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem’s desire to continue his K-1 kickboxing career, and Fabricio Werdum is on the sideline following surgery. Everyone can start to understand why Silva is getting a little hot under the collar.

Still, Bigfoot believes it’s up to the higher ups at Strikeforce and Showtime to lay down the law to say who fights whom.

“The president of Strikeforce should have the last word of it, and dictate who fights who, and if you don’t like it you can lump it,” Silva stated.

The biggest factor for Silva is simply putting food on the table. As a professional fighter, this is his only job and sitting out for several months starts to lessen the amount of steaks in the freezer. The American Top Team fighter wants to fight, he wants to fight soon, and he will fight whomever they put in front of him.

“It’s always hard for a pro to not know when he’s fighting next,” Silva said. “It’s training, it’s supplements, it’s a bunch of stuff, and I hope to fight as soon as possible. Maybe here, maybe in Japan, I really want to fight as soon as possible.”

Going to Dream is a distinct possibility for Silva, who has fought in Japan before. The promotion actually had the offer on the table for a major heavyweight fight involving Silva, but Strikeforce didn’t allow it to happen.

“We actually had an offer to fight Overeem in Dream, but Strikeforce didn’t let that happen because he’s obviously the champion. So they didn’t want that fight to happen in Dream,” Silva explained. “I want to keep on fighting. I’m among the ten best in the world and I want to go 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.”

Silva doesn’t stop short of saying that he’d love a shot at the heavyweight title, but he feels that’s a long shot right now. Not because he doesn’t deserve it, but because the champion wants no part of it.

“If Overeem doesn’t keep on picking opponents, I’d love to fight him,” he said.

Silva’s manager, Alex Davis, explains that there are always many working parts to putting a fight together, but it’s also sometimes just a matter of the promoter telling someone what to do, and at the end of the day they have to do it.

“There’s a financial side, the guy has to pay his bills. I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been doing this over a decade, and I know the characteristics of our sport is uncertainty,” Davis explained. “It takes a little while to get the fights lined up, and you’ve got to be a little bit patient, but at the same time I do think the Strikeforce situation has to be straightened out in the politics department.

“Because it’s not fair to one fighter if other fighters don’t agree to fight. I don’t want to point fingers at Strikeforce, but in the UFC you don’t have that opportunity. You can’t go denying fights, and I agree with Antonio that Strikeforce has to have a stronger hold on the way they match make.”

Davis doesn’t say Strikeforce is at fault with situations like the one with Fedor Emelianenko, but ultimately he believes the fighters are there to fight, not play games.

“They should have more of a say than the athletes,” Davis commented about Strikeforce.

Time will tell what’s next for Antonio Silva, but the big Brazilian is starting to get angry, and his next opponent will face the brunt of that anger whenever his next fight finally happens.