Before Wanderlei Silva established himself as a MMA legend in the PRIDE Fighting Championships, he became part of the UFC’s highlight reel after succumbing to a blitzing first round knockout in his UFC debut at the hands of Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort. The two have both experienced similar ups and downs since then–though Silva arguably climbed to greater heights in becoming one of the most popular PRIDE FC fighters–and have now found their ways back to the UFC where they both compete in the middleweight division.
Though the knockout to Belfort came back in 1998 in the early goings of both fighters’ careers, the loss has stayed on Silva’s mind and, in a recent interview with Brazilian MMA news source Sensei Sportv (props to Fighters Only), “The Axe Murderer” revealed his future plans for a fight with “The Phenom.”
“The war has started,” Silva declared. “I’ll catch you, understand bro? I’ll catch him because our first fight did not prove anything really; it was a technical error and also a lucky moment. He knocked me out quickly.”
Silva told Sensei Sportv that he has been going over the defeat in his mind since it happened and that he is mentally preparing himself for a fight with Belfort, which he feels he can win with the evolution he has undergone and the experience he has gained in the twelve years that have passed since that fight.
“That loss is stuck in my throat and I will turn it over. I am a different fighter now and this time the one who is going to do the knocking out is me,” Belfort said. “I’ll beat him badly. I’m already preparing myself for this bout.”
Belfort’s mental fortitude has been called in to question in the past and for some time it had to be asked before his bouts, “Which Vitor will show up to fight?” “The Phenom” has rattled off five vintage wins in a row though, with his last three being knockouts over Terry Martin, Matt Lindland, and Rich Franklin–seemingly putting to rest any valid questions of his mental state. However, Silva believes that Belfort’s recent upswing belies the fact that his mentality is always prone to waffling.
“I’m acting on his mindset. Everybody knows he is strong but is psychologically weak. Everybody knows he goes to bits before going in to fight, so I’m damaging his mind already,” Silva said. “I’ll go there to win, I’ll really beat up. When someone is going to fight me the guy has to come over in his prime but I go to smash, you know? Now he won’t get that luck of the first time. Now I’m going to knock him out.”
Before Belfort and Silva can face off, “The Phenom” has a date with current UFC middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva and “The Axe Murderer” has to continue recovering from a recent knee surgery. “The Spider” and Belfort are set to meet this February 5th in the main event of UFC 126, which will go down at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.