UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva is gearing up to make his ninth title defense against the last man to defeat him, top contender Yushin Okami, this summer at UFC: Rio in Brazil.
“I’m very excited and very happy that I’m going to be fighting in Brazil,” Silva told the LA Times. “But there’s also a lot more responsibility fighting in my home country. I’m going to be fighting in front of a stadium full of Brazilians and on top of that millions of Brazilians will be watching on TV and I feel they’re going to be expecting a lot from me.”
Silva and Okami squared off at Rumble on the Rock 8 in 2006 with Okami being granted the win via disqualification after The Spider knocked him out with an upkick while his knees were still on the mat, an illegal move. The bout with Okami was the last time that Silva had tasted defeat. Silva feels that Okami could have continued the fight and instead chose to take a disqualification victory.
“I was a little surprised with his reaction to that,” said Silva. “Do I think he could have continued? I do think he could have continued. But he had the rules in his favor. I did an illegal kick and he chose that it was better not to continue.”
Silva is currently the UFC’s most dominant champion and holds the record for most consecutive title defenses (8) and most consecutive victories in the promotion (13). Most recently, the Brazilian technician defended his belt against Vitor Belfort in dramatic fashion, knocking out The Phenom with a front kick in the first round of their UFC 126 meeting this past February.
Okami has earned his spot as number one middleweight contender by virtue of defeating Lucio Linhares, Mark Muñoz and Nate Marquardt consecutively. The man they call Thunder has only lost twice in the UFC, to Chael Sonnen and former champ Rich Franklin. Okami’s current record stands at 26-5.
UFC: Rio will take place on August 27 at the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and will mark the UFC’s second ever trip to the country; the promotion held UFC: Ultimate Brazil, or UFC 17.5, in Sao Paulo back in 1998.