ValeTudo.ru presents exclusive interview with Strikeforce heavyweight contender Antonio "BigFoot" Silva.
Let’s jump right into the main topic, your fight with Fedor on February 12. How is your preparation going? In what stage of training are you in right now?
We’re on the final phase of the trainings. There’s one and a half week more, I’m doing the final adjustments. My mind is good, my body is great, my technique is sharp, and now I’m just waiting for the big day. If God helps me, everything will work out. I’ll do my job right, I’ll put my work in practice on that ring, I’ll get this win.
We know that you have invited a few famous fighters, specifically strikers, who exactly is helping you in what aspect of preparation?
The guys are really good, Guto (Inocente) is a monster, pretty fast, much technical, he has good hans and legs. Vitor Miranda is on the same level as Guto, they’ve face each other, but now they’re training partners…There’s also a Swedish, a French guy and others who came to help me, these guys are very good, they have the same style of Fedor, and I tried to train with heavyweights and also with someone lighter, from the 205lbs division, so that I could gain agility, to become as fast as Fedor, since he’s much explosive. I decided it would be good for me to train with lighter guys so I can work my moves and be fast on my defense and attack.
You are better known as an excellent striker. Do you also work on the takedown defense, grappling and BJJ? How much time do you dedicate to the ground game?
Man, I have a great Wrestling coach here, he knows a lot about technique, he’s great at Wrestling, Marcus Aurelio is helping me on the ground game, and now I also have Jorge Santiago working with me, he’s also supporting me on this ground part and I’m trying to train it all, improving my
Wrestling a lot, since Fedor, when he’s exploding, he takes you down with his overhands, or he takes you down, uses his body to take you down. So I’m training my Wrestling, my ground game, my striking… I’m training everything, I’m not privileging one thing or the other. I’m training everything with the same intensity. Of course I’m preparing my Wrestling and my Jiu-Jisu in case I’m with my back on the ground, since I’ve spent about five bad minutes on my last five on which I could barely keep me awake, and the I realized I had this flaw, which was my striking, and I didn’t have the chance to train with my coach Muhammed Ouali, but now it’s been four weeks I’ve been training with him. I want to be prepared for this war because, to me, it’s like a finale.
What do you expect from Fedor? Do you think he will try to bring some surprises into the fight?
Man, Fedor is a fighter that, on the last 7 or 8 years, hasn’t changed much… He’s a very technical fighter, he’s explosive while standing, he’s fast with both hands, he has a very effective ground and pound game when he’s on top of you… But his style hasn’t changed much on the last years. If you watch all of his fights, you’ll realize they all go the same way. Now he has his camp, he’s got Ernersto Hoost with him, but I’m pretty sure that when things get bad for him, he’ll return to his original game, because that’s his game, he won’t change it, he’ll come more cautious for this fight since he’s coming from a loss, so he won’t get too much exposed, because we both are heavyweight fighters: the first punch that really hits ones face may be crucial. He’ll try to regain his space and I want to be among the top 10, to be where the bests are. The true winner of this fight will be the fans, because there’ll be two monsters on that cage willing to kill each other the entire time.
Talking about the upcoming fight, you have mentioned that Werdum demonstrated Fedor’s weaknesses. Does this mean that your plan for the fight will be mainly to submit Emelianenko on the ground?
Absolutely. Werdum has just shown it. In some of his fights he manages to defend from the ground game, like he did with Minotauro and in many other occasions, if you watch his fight with Mark Hunt.... Some fighters had the opportunity to finish him on the ground, but just couldn’t. I think that can be the way, but to get there is another road I have to take. I’m getting ready to fight standing, I’m in a good shape, I’m not like I was on Arlovski’s fight, because I was prepared to fight on the ground and then I’ve spent three whole rounds fighting standing up, and these things you can only know when you’re in there, when you’re on the ring everything can change. But, as I told you, Werdum showed his ground game, but to get to the ground is a long way and, if I have the change to finish him by striking, I will and if I have the chance to finish him on the floor, I’ll definitely will.
In your bout against Mike Kayle, you have faced s stiff opposition in the first round and were rocked with his right cross early in the fight. We know that Fedor has very fast hands, are you working on the standup defense specifically against Fedor’s overhand right?
That’s true. Fedor has shown it, for many years, that his right hand is very fast and strong. You can’t make a mistake, you can’t stand in front of him, you have to have an attitude, you have to act first. You
can’t wait for Fedor in anyway. I really went through a bad time on the first round with Mike, I felt his punch, I went through a pretty bad first round, I was barely awake and I defended myself as I could… It was good because all fighters have to win in good and in bad situations too. I’ve fought in good situations, I’ve won quickly, and now I’ve proven I can fight when things are not in my favor, but I had some difficulties on that fight, I’ve had to solve some problems, I want to Paraiba, so the only thing I didn’t train was my ground game, I’ve spent two months without touching my hands on a gauntlet, I didn’t train correctly… But, for this fight, I’m trained, I’ve solved what I had to solve back in Brazil, came here with my first coach, the guy who trained me for Arlovski, and the one who trained me for my previous fights, so I’m different now, more mature, well trained, and I’m sure it’ll be a different fight than my previous one.
Fedor is very adamant about not traveling to US to train or spar; at the same time we all know that he would be very welcomed practically anywhere in the world. Do you think that it hurts Fedor and doesn’t allow him to demonstrate all his potential training all his life in one place with same coaches?
I don’t think so. The guy has proven, for many years, that it was working. He lost to Werdum, who’s a great athlete on the floor, it was Werdum’s day, he had a great technique, but I don’t think so.... He showed it worked, I think he feels comfortable training close to his family and it was working out since then. I think that you shouldn’t change a winning team. Now he lost, he’s doing a different camp, he looked for new guys and I think that, if it was working, he was absolutely right. He’s a good professional, but it was until Werdum, because now he lost to the guy and he’ll fall for me too, you can bet on it.
After Fedor lost to Werdum he simply stated that he “made a mistake” and “rushed to finish Werdum” and he needs absolutely no adjustments to his training or changing anything or anybody in preparation for the fight. What do you think about this statement? What about your lessons after losing to Werdum, have you made any adjustments?
Look, as I told you, Fedor, on the last eight years, hasn’t changed much. He has his game, he’s an explosive guy, he really goes for it, he waits you a bit, and if you don’t do anything he’ll come with his overhands, and if he can’t take you down with that, he’ll use his body to take you down, a Sambo takedown… He thinks it works, he didn’t want to change it, he’s a professional and knows what is best for him. I, after my loss to Werdum, tried to change much, I completely changed my training, today I do my own camp, I decided to leave American Top Team. I have many friends there, my Florida family is the guys from ATT, but unfortunately I wasn’t having a heavyweight training. The only heavyweight that trained there was Thiago Silva and, back then when I fought Werdum, he was injured, so the heaviest train I had was with Jorge Santiago. Who saved me on that fight was Ouali, because I did much gauntlet trainings, striking. I did a pretty good first round, but then I broke my hand, it started hurting on the second round, and on the third I realize the difference of not having trained with a heavyweight do and Werdum evolved. Many people say I’ve won, many claim that his win wasn’t fair, but I think God gave this victory for him, it was his time to shine, than he beat Fedor up and I’m really satisfied and glad, because sometimes we realize we have to change when we’re not losing, but when you see a flaw on your game. It happened, today I do my own cam, I do my own specific train, and I felt this change on my fight against Arlovski, when I did my own vamp, I’ve hired my coaches, hired my sparring and I evolved a lot. On my fight against Mike Kyle, I had some difficulties, as I told you, I had to solve some things back in Paraiba, that only I could do. I didn’t have a good training, but now I’m doing the same training I was doing for Arlovski. For six weeks now, my life’s been about eating, sleeping and training. That’s all I’ve been doing for six weeks, that’s it, I’m thinking about that Russian , thinking about the win and wanting to be among the bests.
Do you think that after Fedor lost to Weerdum he was dethroned from the top position in the Heavyweight division? What if you bet Fedor in February, what spot would you take in the top-10 after doing that?
Look, the way I see it, Fedor should be considered, at least, the number two, with Werdum as number one. But it’s not me that chose who’ll be on which position of the ranking, so I can only wonder because Fedor was considered to be the number one, Werdum beat him up and now they’ve put UFC fighters on the ranking, like Brock Lesnar on the second position and Cain Velasquez as the number one… We don’t know what criteria they use for ranking these people, but I think that a guy with about 30 fights, who has been defeated only once be behind a guy who has only fought 8 times is a crazy thing, for me it’s impossible. In my opinion, Fedor is the number one, I think he didn’t stop being the number one, even because all history he did, the fighters he had to face, all the battles he won. I think that, if I win this fight, as I’m going to, for sure, I’ll be among the three or four bets of the division. Currently, I’m the tenth. But, winning this fight, I’ll skip to the top three or four.
Fedor and (or) his management declined a fight with you back in December. Do you think it was due to ongoing negotiations or were there some other reasons? Does it motivate you more?
At first, when I fought on Bodog it was supposed to be against Fedor, but he didn’t accepted to fight me back then, I wasn’t known, I wasn’t among the tops, so he rejected this fight on Bodog. They’ve though about doing this fight on Strikeforce, but he declined it again, but I think that sometimes it’s not the athlete who declines it, it depends on his manager, it depends on the event because we have to have our manager approval, the event’s approval and the TV channel’s approval, which is Showtime and there’s many paperwork behind a fight. It’s not that easy accepting or declining a fight. There are many things behind a fight that people don’t usually see. But I think now is the right moment. God has
given this fight to me on the right moment. Since my eighth fight, when I was still fighting in Brazil, at X-Gym, many people have thought about me fighting him, they did a three or four pages article about me, saying I was the guy to beat Fedor. God kept postponing it. Now I’m much more experienced, I’ve been through all kinds of fights: good ones and bad ones… I’m much more mature now, I think the time is right and that everything will work out.
Give us your predictions for other quarterfinals of the tournament and maybe who will meet in the final of Grand Prix?
I’m a Brazilian until the day I die. If there’s a Brazilian fighting another guy, even if I know that the guy is favorite, I’ll be cheering for the Brazilian because the blood that run through my veins is Brazilian and I’ll never cheer for any other country. I think Werdum has enough weapons to beat Overeem, who’s a guy that grew his muscles a lot, he’s much explosive, he has a good striking game, he just won K-1…. He’s
very dangerous while standing up, but Werdum is much experienced and I’m sure Overeem can’t handle three rounds with him with all his muscles, ad Overeem’ ground game is far from being comparable to Werdum’s, although it’s a long way until they both are on the floor since the fight starts with both athletes standing up, but I think Werdum will win. I hope Brett Rogers wins, I know Barnett has a sharpen technique, he’s the so called “favorite” for this bout, but I want Brett Rogers to win because he’s a cool guy, he’s nice, humble, he has his own fans, he talks to everybody, the opposite of Barnett. I really wanted that Arlovski won his fights again. I know it’s hard to catch Kharitonov, both are strikers and it’ll be a great fight, but I wanted him to shine again among the heavyweights, since he’s a guy who was Ultimate’s champion, he’s much technical, he’s really good, so I’ll be cheering for Arlovski.
Some people speculate that Fedor or Alistair will not finish this GP and possibly “quit” even before the semifinals begin, which will result in this great GP to become just a series of individual fights. What’s your take on the whole situation? Do you think this Grand Prix will go from the beginning to the end?
No, not at all… I’m sure it’ll go until the end, they’re great athletes. Overeem has agreed not to fight on K-1, but he won’t pass from its first phase ether way… He can fight on K-1 because he won’t even win his first fight (laughs). Many people talk about Fedor, saying he’ll retire, that he can’t go through the end… I want to say that I’m trained, I’m giving my blood for this fight. There’re no favorites for this bout, I think its 50-50, I’m not kidding here, and I’m not at home, sleeping. I’m training on the morning and at night and I’ll do everything in my power to make sure he leaves this GP after his first and last fight on it, but I don’t want him to retire, only if it’s because a loss. But I hope he doesn’t, the guy’s a legend of the sport and he has much MMA to show the world. But I hope he doesn’t show it with me, that he uses it with other people (laughs).
Let’s say you defeat Fedor, who would you like to face next, Alistair or Werdum?
Man, as I told you, I’ll be cheering for Werdum, I hope a Brazilian wins. If we have to confront each other, it’ll be for our children’s meal, a professional bout. I respect Werdum a lot for the person he is, when we meet we get together for lunch, dinner, we’ve trained together and there’s no rivalry. The coach Rafael Cordeiro is a great person, I admire him a lot. If, by any chance, we have to fight each other, it’ll be for MMA’s sake, it’ll be to please the fans, because there’s no rivalry what so ever. The good thing about it though would be that we’d guarantee a Brazilian on the finale. Actually, I hope he wins and, if we confront each other, it’ll be for the fans, for the children, but then we’ll go out together to have dinner… We are professionals, just like on soccer, volleyball, it’s a sport and we are professionals.
Fedor and his people will be reading this interview. Would you like to share last words with him before your fight?
I want to thank, in first place, to have the opportunity of fighting a legend of MMA, Fedor, and to say that, in order to become a legend, you have to beat a legend… For you to be one of the bests, you have to beat the bests. I’m training hard, my life’s been about training. Think about me, not on Werdum or Overeem, because you’ll have a hard one to face