When Anderson Silva steps into the UFC Octagon on July 7th to face Chael Sonnen, it will be almost two years since their first encounter. In those two years, Sonnen has done almost all of the talking as he lobbied for a rematch with smack talk the likes of which MMA has never seen before. Meanwhile Silva has remained aloof and relatively quiet. Sonnen’s rhetoric certainly won him a legion of fans, but he has certainly also turned some fans off. In this past week, it became apparent that Silva had been listening as well, and that he has been keeping a cork board of Sonnen’s quotes.
Silva chose a conference call that the UFC was holding for the press to launch into a vitriolic tirade about Sonnen that shocked a lot of people. Silva had kept his thoughts to himself all this time, only to snap on this conference call.
Silva called Sonnen a criminal, and threatened to break his arms, his legs, his teeth. He promised he was going to beat Sonnen so badly that Sonnen would never fight again, that Sonnen would never WANT to fight again.
Silva has long been a quiet type, and he has never been particularly smart or media savvy. When some of his flat performances were criticized by fans and even UFC Presidnet Dana White in the past, he reacted poorly, and really gave the impression he didn’t care.
The point is that I don’t think what we heard from Silva was hype for the fight. I think we heard what he was really thinking. Sonnen’s non stop running of the mouth had been heard by the champion and he is not OK with it.
How will this affect the fight? It is hard to say. For his part Sonnen reacted like he always does – pointing out that in between all the tough words, Silva never once said he was going to beat Sonnen or win the fight. I don’t think Sonnen is going to be intimidated by words.
But Silva is possibly fighting angry for the first time in the Octagon, and there are times where that raw emotion can get you in trouble. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, because Silva is known as a guy who fights very serenely and always sticks to his gameplan. Without that, one of two things can happen – he may come in and run Sonnen over in a rush as promised, or he might for the first time be vulnerable as he fights out of control.
Silva remains the favorite in the fight and rightfully so. But this is going to be one to watch.