UFC Senior Director of Public Relations Dave Sholler should probably take the night off when Anderson Silva and Nick Diaz finally meet for a customary staredown.
Sholler was tossed aside like a rag doll back in August while attempting to stop a fight between light heavyweight champ Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier in the MGM Grand lobby in Las Vegas.
Emotions will once again be running high leading up to Silva’s return bout against Diaz on January 31, 2015. Given Diaz’s tendency to get under his opponent’s skin, Silva was asked on Tuesday how he would react if tested by the former welterweight contender.
By all accounts, the former middleweight champ is very easygoing, but he isn’t one to be passive in the face of blatant disrespect. Silva said at a press conference held in Brazil:
I’m very easy going. I’m in a radical sport, for a lot of people, it’s a violent sport. ... I think my work has nothing to do with my personality, but I don’t like to be disrespected as a man. I think you need to have a respect as an athlete and as a man. If [Nick Diaz] disrespects me, things are going to happen as they need to happen.
Silva, who broke his tibia and fibula in a title bout against Chris Weidman nearly a year ago, has endured a long road back to recovery.
According to his doctor and coaches, who were also present at the press conference, Silva is already kicking with confidence and well on his way to being 100 percent come fight night. While Silva’s hiatus has been due to injury, Diaz hasn’t seen action since retiring from fighting well over a year ago.
Considering the stakes, all of the ingredients are definitely in place for a little pre-fight drama. These are two of MMA’s biggest stars trying to avoid a third straight loss in their long-awaited returns.
Let the pre-fight mind games begin.
Jordy McElroy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA writer for Rocktagon.