Brazilian light heavyweight Thiago Silva recently returned to action in the UFC after being forced to sit out for a year while mending a back injury. The American Top Team trained fighter returned in style, dominating a seemingly focused and fired up Brandon Vera for the entirety of their three round fight. Though Silva’s performance was enough to earn him a fight against former champion Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, some people were unimpressed by Silva’s perceived lack of sportsmanship.
In the final round, Silva was riding Vera’s back on the cage, firing away on his cowered opponent with slaps and chops to the face, adding insult to injury by faux-playing the bongo drums on Vera’s back at one point. Silva recently spoke with Tatame.com, where he was asked about the taunting.
“We never do anything without a reason. What I did in there was to take his focus away,” said Silva. “The only provocation I did was when I slapped him on his back, the others I did because my hands were aching when I punched him because I broke my finger. So it would open me the way to try a submission or something like it. The only provocation was that one so he would lose his focus, and there’s no other reason.”
Silva’s loudest detractor has been bright 205-pound prospect Jon “Bones” Jones, who Tweeted after the fight, “Wow that slapping was so disrespectful.. id love to give him a slap in the face.” Silva also responded to Jones’ admonishment, telling the flashy Greg Jackson pupil to calm down.
“This guy is a jerk,” Silva said. “Everybody’s a professional fighter and all fights include provocations. Brandon Vera said he’s break my legs, that I wasn’t on his level. I don’t say things, I do. You get recognized when you do things. I’m a professional fighter, but I can’t always please everybody. There’s always somebody behind the computed with a plate filled with French fries, ready to criticize you. I fight for the fans, for the money and to put my name up there. Talking is too much easy, nobody knows what goes on in your life, your trainings… I think I did my job. Who likes it, likes it, but you can dislike it if you want.”
Silva and Jackson are scheduled to face off at UFC 130, which is expected for May 28th at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, while Jones is currently scheduled to face fellow up-and-comer Ryan Bader at UFC 126 this February 5th.