Wanderlei Silva Q &
In the ultimate dream match
many years in making, Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei
Silva will finally square off coming up at UFC
The two long reigning light
heavyweight champions nearly met in the UFC
a few years ago, but when negotiations fell
through, Silva returned to Pride Fighting Championships
to defend his belt, and Liddell stayed with
the UFC defend his light heavyweight belt.
Now, close to three years
later, neither Silva or Liddell remain champion,
but the excitement of the match-up is there
all the same. Both fighters possess one-punch
knockout power, and both fighters would like
nothing more than to stand and bang for however
long the fight lasts.
We recently caught up with
Silva to discuss a variety of topics including
the upcoming fight with Liddell, what it’s
like to be back in the UFC, his views on Mauricio
“Shogun” Rua’s debut, and
why Fedor Emelianenko may very well be crazy.
Question: To get started,
what are your thoughts on the fight with Chuck
Wanderlei Silva: This is
a great match-up for all the fans and me. I’ve
waiting for this fight for a long time, and
now, the moment is almost here. I wake up and
sleep only with this fight in my mind.
Q: How long have you been
waiting for him?
WS: I first saw him fight
in Brazil about eight years ago. Chuck won.
I wanted to fight him ever since then, but I
went to Japan, and he went to the UFC. Then,
I became the champion in Japan, and he became
the champion here so we never had a chance to
fight. I have always been waiting for this match.
Q: It seemed like the fight
was close to coming to fruition a few years
ago when you and Chuck had the famous stare
down in the cage. Unfortunately, the fight never
came to pass. From your point of view, what
WS: In the UFC, there were
some difficult negotiations, but I wanted to
fight him in Pride – in the tournament.
I didn’t get the opportunity to because
he lost in Pride to Rampage (Jackson) before
getting the chance to fight me.
Q: Now that Pride is no longer
around, are you personally happy to be fighting
in the U.S. for the UFC?
WS: Yes - because it is much
different here. The crowd is always cheering
very loudly. It is a great scene. I believe
the fans really like my style. If I have good
opponents and good matches, I believe I will
have very good fans here too.
Q: While you were the Pride
light heavyweight champion, were you following
WS: Yes, I watched the UFC
many times in Brazil. They had some great fights,
and now, the UFC has the best fighters in my
division. For me, it is great to fight the best
guys possible. I want to fight everybody.
Q: Besides Chuck Liddell,
is there anyone specifically you’d like
WS: I want to fight the champion
– Rampage. I want the belt. I think with
a win against Chuck Liddell I may make me able
to fight the champion.
Q: There is a name with some
history for you – Rampage Jackson. Jackson
has had a lot of success coming over to the
UFC, and you defeated him two times in Pride.
What do you think of Rampage’s accomplishments
in the UFC? Does his success surprise you?
WS: Not at all. He’s
a very tough guy. He’s a good puncher.
He’s a good wrestler. He’s got a
great style for the UFC. I beat him two times,
but they were both very hard fights. If I do
end up fighting him again, I am going to have
to train very hard. The UFC belt is a dream
for me. The UFC belt is a symbol for the fighters.
It is where the best fighters fight. The people
who have the belt go down in history.
Q: That’s an interesting
comment about how important the UFC belt is
to you. What do you think about Fedor Emelianenko’s
choice not to fight in the UFC?
WS: He’s crazy. I don’t
know why the guy doesn’t want to fight
here. These are the best events. This is the
biggest promotion. The guy could be a symbol
here. He could have money for the rest of his
life. He could do well with the promotion, with
sponsors, with commercials, and many other possibilities.
Japan is a good market, but the US is different.
The American fans love the fighters. Everyday,
people come up to me in the street. He needs
to come to the UFC.
Q: When you were with Pride,
there were always fights among different weight
classes. Was there ever a chance that you and
Fedor were going to fight?
WS: I did have about ten
fights at heavyweight in my career, but I never
fought Fedor. I would have gone in there though.
I am not afraid of anyone. I will fight whomever
the promoter says.
Q: Another Brazilian fighter,
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, did not do
so well in his debut. What do you think happened
in his fight with Forrest Griffin?
WS: I don’t know. It
was a great surprise. The guy (Rua) is basically
number one in the world. Rua is a very strong
guy. He’s got good jiu-jitsu. He’s
got good kicks. But Griffin was amazing. He
won. He never stopped. He’s good with
his hands. He’s a warrior. I changed my
opinion about Griffin after this fight. After
beating Shogun, Griffin could be the next challenger
for the champion.
Q: When do you think Shogun
WS: I think he’ll be
back to the top by the end of the year. I’m
not sure when his next fight will be. Before
the Griffin fight, Shogun thought Griffin would
be an easy opponent, but Griffin was a very
tough guy. Griffin never stops. He has great
stamina. Shogun didn’t train enough. Shogun
will be back though. He’s a great fighter.
Q: Forrest Griffin started
out with the UFC on the first season of The
Ultimate Fighter. Would you ever be interested
in possibly being a coach on the show in the
WS: I’d love to coach
or even be a fighter on it. What I think they
should some day is have a program with major
professional fighters. For me, I’d want
to do it. It’s a great show. The show
made the UFC very popular.
Q: Thanks very much for your
time and in closing, how long can the fans of
the UFC expect to see you in the octagon for?
WS: I am signed for
four fights over two years. I’d like to
win the belt in those two years. It’s
a great promotion.