Anderson Silva Still an Enigma in Promotion Ahead of Rematch with Weidman
If you happened to witness the latest edition of Hard Knocks on HBO that centered around the Cincinnati Bengals and the team they will field in 2013, there was one character that stood out above all the rest—mostly because he was unwilling to dance for the cameras.
That's metaphorically speaking, of course, but linebacker James Harrison had little interest in being on camera or doing much else during the taping of the show than to give the Hard Knocks team plenty of disdain for their participation in the training camp.
Time and time again, Harrison blocked cameras, refused interviews and even went as far as pulling in quarterback Andy Dalton to act as a human shield to keep the Hard Knocks crew from getting a clear shot of him during one of their locker room shots.
Over the past seven years, he's enjoyed the kind of success rarely tasted in MMA, with the longest reign as champion in company history while also becoming an icon in his home country of Brazil. He's been on the cover of Rolling Stone and been featured on commercials for Fox.
But when it's time to promote a fight and answer the litany of questions that reporters have for him, Silva's responses are akin to shoving a quarterback in front of his shot to avoid dealing with the press.
On Tuesday, Silva and the man who took the title from him in July, Chris Weidman, took part in a press conference in Las Vegas to help begin the promotion for their upcoming title fight on Dec. 28 at UFC 168.
Silva was cordial enough with a smile on his face and his eyes staring back over the crowd behind his black-rimmed glasses. One of the first questions that came to the Brazilian asked how many times he's watched the first fight with Weidman at this stage.
Silva replied that he'd watched it three times, but his coaches have watched it on several occasions to help him prepare for the upcoming rematch. The next inquiry came about his performance versus Weidman's performance and whether the result in the fight ultimately came down to his mistake when he was taunting his opponent and got clipped with a huge right hand that put him down and out.
It was here that Silva decided to go back into a reclusive mode and avoided answering many of the questions posed to him.
"Chris is the new champion, you need to respect this guy," Silva said. "Come on."
Next up was Silva being asked if life had changed for him at all since losing the belt, and the only answer he could muster was "No," but he didn't delve any deeper than the simple, one-word response.
Following the fight with Weidman back in July, Silva said directly after it was over that he wasn't interested in a rematch and would happily watch the champion defend his new belt while he focused on new goals. A few weeks later, Silva changed his mind and decided he did want a second shot at Weidman with a chance to reclaim the gold he wore around his waist for seven years.
So it was a natural follow up to that string of events to ask Silva why he had a sudden change of heart. Why did he not care after the fight but then do a 180 degree turn and want the immediate rematch?
Silva's answer was somewhat uninspiring.
"I have the new contract. In my contract, I have nine more fights," Silva answered.
The mundane answers muddled with a few one-word responses weren't exactly raising the stakes in what is being billed as the biggest rematch in UFC history. At one point when an interviewer gave chase to Silva, trying to prod the former champion for some kind of explanation that wouldn't fit on a Twitter response, UFC president Dana White leaned over and passed a message to Silva.
"Give people a little more, they want to hear more," White whispered.
Silva did up the ante a little bit when he responded to the question about the pressure and intensity being raised for this upcoming rematch.
"I no have more pressure now because Chris is the new champion," said Silva. "I'm working hard to bring the belt back for me, for Brazil, but I don't have more pressure."
"I have nine more fights and my focus is my rematch with Chris," Silva added. "The new Anderson is coming, trust me."
The press conference ended without much else in the way of fanfare for the fight outside of the customary staredown where Silva covered his mouth while looking back at Weidman.
These two will go through another slew of press conferences, question-and-answer periods and meetings with fans over the next week as they progress on media tour to promote UFC 168.
There is not a fighter on planet earth that doesn't hate the monotony of doing a laundry list of interviews where the questions will almost always sound the same, and there may only be so much material to cover prior to a bout taking place. Still, most fighters know that interviews and press conferences are just part of the deal.
In the fight business, part of the business is promotion. It isn't the NFL, where the action moves fluidly week to week and a big game is touted just five or six days before it takes place.
No, in the UFC world of big fights, there are literally months between the announcement and the actual bout taking place, and that leaves plenty of time to convince the average person to plunk down $50 or $60 of his or her hard-earned money to watch the show the company is promoting.
Not every interview has to sound like something out of Bull Durham, but in the fight game, it's expected that there may be a little heat or at least a rivalry headed into a big showdown.
Silva wasn't playing that game before he lost the title to Weidman, and he's certainly not going to sing for his supper now, either.
If there's one thing that can be said about Silva, it's that he's an enigma in and out of the cage, and figuring him out may be a puzzle no one is able to solve. Weidman managed to do it in July, and it brought about a changing of the guard in the middleweight division.
Whether Silva continues to respond with one-word answers or long, drawn-out, St. Crispin's Day type speeches for the next few months is unknown. But all that truly matters is that he shows up on Dec. 28 ready to face Weidman for a second time.
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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