(Video courtesy of YouTube/UFC)
The UFC uploaded an interview with Wanderlei Silva today in which the former PRIDE middleweight champion discussed his upcoming UFC 139 bout with former Strikeforce middleweight champ Cung Le.
The consummate crowd favorite says that he actually took some time to decide whether or not he’d have enough time to prepare for the short notice bout as a fill in for Le’s original opponent, Vitor Belfort, who bowed out of the event due to injury.
“I was just chilling. I was at home with my son. These days I’ve been teaching classes at my gym. I got a text asking if I wanted to fight at UFC 139. I was in shock. But a good shock. I was planning on fighting again, but I didn’t think it would be so fast. I was preparing to go back in February. I wasn’t sure right away,” he reveals. “I was thinking if I needed more than eight weeks, but I was already conditioned from [my fight with Chris Leben in July]. I took a break from training, since I had no fight scheduled, but now I’m already training good and hard. I was very happy. It was a great surprise.”
“The Axe Murderer” says he was still disheartened by his loss to Leben and that the offer to fight Le made him shake it off and refocus on training for the bout, which he says will be an entertaining one.
“I was very sad after my last fight with the results, but this fight cheered me up and I want to give a great performance for my fans. Cung Le is a very good opponent. He has good muay thai. He is a good athlete. I think this will be a fight with lots of movement. There will be legs flying everywhere. I will be training a lot of kicks. I’m gonna kick him a lot. If he comes around with those spinning kicks… if he hits me in my stomach like he likes, I will get very mad,” he explains. “Don’t bring that kick because I am already training the defense for it. He goes one, two and gives a little step forward [and] he spins after the step, I already got that one. That one won’t work. Go find another one.”
Although he gives his opponent props, Silva displays some uncharacteristic swagger when talking about who will have the crowd advantage in San Jose.
“I will be facing a good opponent in a co-main event. He will be at home; he is from San Jose, but I know I also have a lot of fans in San Jose. It will be a great competition,” Wand says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this time the fans root against Cung Le. I am a fan favorite. Don’t be sad, Cung Le, if the fans from San Jose cheer for me more than for you. Don’t be jealous; when you fight against someone else they’ll root for you.”
For Silva, his fans have always been as, if not more important to him than fighting itself. as such, it’s no surprise that he is dedicating the bout to the fans who keep pushing him to compete regardless of whether he wins or loses.
“My fans who are with me, like I say, are not my fans. They are my friends. You guys are the reason why I keep trying. We have to keep trying. I lost a few, but some time I will get back to winning. It’s a question of time. I will fix my mistakes and perfect my game. Soon I will meet victory again and that will be a great joyful moment. I want to thank you guys from deep in my heart for all the affection and all the strength you gave me after my last fight,” he says. “If there was one good result in my last fight, it was to see that you guys are with me no matter what. That is priceless; you are my fans for life — my friends for life. I hope to have the opportunity to shake your hands and hug each one of you — you who cheer for me, who send me messages, who get happy and sad with me. I hope to pay back the affection and respect you guys have for me and all of the energy and strength that you give me. I hope you guys are all successful at your goals and that God keeps blessing you and your families. Thank you all. God bless.”