UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva will put his title on the line tonight at UFC: Rio for a record ninth time, against the last man to defeat him: Yushin Okami.
When they first met in 2006 at Rumble on the Rock 8, Silva was declared the loser after knocking Okami out with an illegal up-kick in the first round. Since then, Thunder has proven himself to be one of the best middleweights in the world and is confident that he can use his overpowering strength and powerhouse grappling to defeat The Spider this evening.
Of course, Silva has a different take on what Okami brings to the table.
“If he think he’s stronger than me, then that’s going to indicate what he’s going to do in the fight. I don’t think strength plays that big of a difference,” he said. “If it’s that big of a difference, then the elephant would be the king of the jungle, not the lion.”
In addition to the fact that he’s knocked Okami out once before, Silva will no doubt get a boost on fight night simply because of the fight’s location: Silva’s backyard of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“It’s going to be great,” said the champ of fighting at home. “The Brazilian fans are very rowdy and my message to the world is: prepare yourself because it’s going to get rowdy.”
Though he does feel that he owns a victory over Okami already, Silva isn’t underestimating him as an opponent the second time around. He knows that Thunder will come hungry and ready and in accordance, he’s trained his hardest to hold onto his belt.
“Anything can happen,” Silva said of the fight. “One thing I can guarantee you is that I’m going to be well prepared, and I’d like to tell all the fans out there and the world, everyone that is buying the pay-per-view, that this is going to be a fight that you don’t wanna miss.”
UFC: Rio goes down tonight from the HSBC Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Don’t forget to check back on FightLine.com for our live, ongoing coverage of the fight.