If there's one thing to be said about UFC 160 main event fighter Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva, it's that he has the ability to rise to the occasion when the entire world seems to be counting him out.
In February of 2011, Silva was matched up with former pound-for-pound king and heavyweight icon Fedor Emelianenko in the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. Emelianenko was entering the fight off a loss to Fabricio Werdum, but many considered it to be a fluke mistake the Russian made getting caught in a triangle choke early in the opening round.
The bout with Silva was supposed to be Emelianenko's charge back to the top of the rankings, but what happened in the fight was a far cry from a triumphant return. Silva manhandled Emelianenko for the better part of 10 minutes before the fight was stopped due to damage the Russian endured while battling the giant Brazilian fighter.
Silva once again had the odds stacked against him when he faced former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem in February at UFC 156. It seemed everybody had already anointed Overeem as the next challenger to the UFC heavyweight title and his fight with Silva was merely a formality.
Unfortunately for Overeem, Silva had much different plans and instead knocked out the former K-1 kickboxing champion in the third round to not only shock the world but claim his spot as the top contender in the heavyweight division.
Now just a few days away from his first crack at the UFC heavyweight title, Silva is again facing what seem to be insurmountable odds.
Silva's title shot comes against Cain Velasquez—the same fighter who gave him a very rude welcome to the Octagon by beating him in the first round by TKO almost exactly one year ago. So heading into the rematch, Silva is again in familiar territory.
He isn't one to look at his history and believe that upsets are something he just excels at when he steps in the cage. Silva knows that if his preparation is on point, he can beat any fighter on the planet whether he's the favorite or a huge underdog.
"I don't want and don't like to show anyone some type of proof," Silva told Bleacher Report in an exclusive interview. "Just that I train hard and try to achieve good victories because I love to fight."
If proving naysayers wrong doesn't serve as Silva's motivation, how about good, old fashioned revenge?
It's hard to erase the image of Velasquez taking Silva down in their last fight and literally pounding him into a bloody mess that preceded the end of the night for the Brazilian. Maybe it's his best poker face, but according to Silva, this fight isn't about revenge or redemption.
It's about facing the best heavyweight in the world and when the fight is over taking home the UFC gold.
"I don't think about revenge," Silva stated. "I'm professional and all I want is to fight and win. There is a feeling of a rematch and I want the belt. This is an extra motive.
"This is definitely a great moment in my career, but I don't put pressure on myself. This fight is just another important fight in my life."
While their last fight ended with Silva wearing a crimson mask, it also provided him with a large amount of knowledge for how Velasquez may approach this rematch. He felt the UFC champion's strength and wrestling in their last fight, and it gives Silva plenty of ammunition to load up for the rematch this Saturday night.
"Cain Velasquez is an excellent wrestling and a complete athlete and I respect him a lot," Silva said. "I am training well and I am going to do what my trainers taught me because I am sure it will work. For every attack, there is a defense and a counterattack."
Silva doesn't care much about how this fight plays out in terms of him gunning for a knockout or a submission. If he walks out of UFC 160 with the heavyweight title, he's going to be a very happy man.
So when it came down to a prediction on how the fight with Velasquez will end—Silva kept it simple and said "with my arms raised in the air."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained first hand unless otherwise noted.
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