by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
At tonight’s Ultimate Fight Night event on Spike TV, fans will be treated to what could become a Fight of the Year candidate when MMA standout Anderson Silva takes on one of the sport’s fastest rising youngsters, Chris Leben.

For Silva in particular, this marks the culmination of a long and sometimes strange journey to the UFC after having spent time in Pride, Shooto, and most recently Cage Rage.

“I’m very excited to make my first appearance in the UFC,” Anderson told MMAWeekly. “It’s been a dream of mine for a long time that has finally become a reality.”

Fighting in the UFC presents an opportunity for Silva to continue to adapt his game from the ring, where he spent much of his early years, to the cage, where he’s spent much of his recent activity.

“I think they are very different,” said Silva of the differences between the ring and the cage. “The way you move around a cage is much different than the way you move around the ring.”

Then there are the UFC’s rules, which allow elbows on the ground while conversely eliminating knees and kicks on the mat.

“No, not really,” replied Anderson when asked if the UFC’s rules would affect the fight. “My team and I have adapted the proper strategy [for the fight] based around the rules of the UFC.”

One of the good things about tonight’s fight for Silva is the fact that it will be broadcast on Spike TV across the United States and Canada. For many fans that haven’t had the chance to see him fight, either because of pay-per-view restrictions or non-broadcasting of his fights, this will be probably the most exposure that Anderson has ever had for a fight.

“I think it is a great opportunity to show the fans who Anderson Silva is. I believe they will be very satisfied [with my performance],” exclaimed Silva.

When it comes to Anderson’s opponent, Chris Leben, Silva feels it be a great fight and that Chris needs to be ready to use his head as much as his fists.

“I know he is a tough fighter, like most of the fighters in the UFC,” commented Anderson. “I feel it’s going to be an exciting game of chess. I hope he’s good at chess!”

Should all go well against Leben, Silva’s goals are to add yet another belt to his collection very soon.

“My main goal at this time is this fight [against Leben],” explained Anderson. “My long-term goals are for my team, and I [want] to get the belt and bring it back to Brazil.”

Silva added, “As for a message to Chris… it’s easy to talk about me. The difficult part is beating me. To the fans… from this day forward, make sure you don’t miss any of my fights. I promise you will be very satisfied.”

Silva closed out the conversation by saying, “I’d like to thank my team, my family, and my sponsors [No Gi and Sinister Brand Clothing] for being there and supporting me… thank you, and God bless.”