Antonio â€śBig Footâ€ť Silva has suffered a lot during his whole life. After facing some problems with his visa on Europe, cancelled fights, doping issues and lack of chances, the athlete reach the top of the world last Saturday, on the quarterfinals of Strikeforceâ€™s Grand Prix. Fedor Emelianenko was no longer considered to be the best of the division, but the Brazilian still consider him to be the best ever. On an exclusive chat with TATAME, Big Foot commented the fight, revealed the request he did to Fedor after the fight and betted on what may happen on the tournament, making himself free to help on the trainings of Fabricio Werdum for his bout with Alistair Overeem. Check it:
Did everything go like you were expecting it to? Was the game plan to strike on the first round, than take him down and work on top of him?
Basically the game plan was this, but I wasnâ€™t supposed to stand for so long on the first round, I had to do that for two minutes and then try to take him down, but I felt comfortable there. He punched me few times and I could tell they werenâ€™t that strong, but I absorbed it quite well. When the second round started, (Andre) Benkei looked at me and asked: â€śdo you want to win? Isnâ€™t it your dream to be here? So, go there and beat him upâ€ť. Then I entered there focused to take him down, I could use my ground and pound, which was what Iâ€™ve trained the most.
Then, why do you think you couldnâ€™t take him down on the first round?
I felt ok fighting standing, my head was good and I know that Iâ€™d get the takedown if I tried it. We also set a game plan of putting him against the grid and spend some time there, since Iâ€™m much heavier than him. I only didnâ€™t take him down before, but the Iâ€™ve set the game plan and I used it.
Do you think the doctors were right to finish the fight?
Many said he couldâ€™ve returned for round number three, but Iâ€™ll tell you somethingâ€¦ Because of Fedorâ€™s heart and his attitude as a professional, heâ€™d have returned for sure, but he hadnâ€™t conditions to fight, because if he returned, heâ€™d have lost his eye, because Iâ€™d keep trying to hit it all the time. The doctors are there for it, to talk with the athlete and donâ€™t let him to get hurt. I was at the hotel and I say him getting there around 5am, and I think he has broken something because his face was pretty bad, he had a black eye. For the athlete he is, heâ€™d have returned, but it maybe would have complicated things for him, because I was ready to fight round number three, I went into tears and a the entire story went through my mind: where I come from, where I am now, I had to hold so the tears wouldnâ€™t go down. I got puffy, but I was crazy to fight the third round.
Do you believe the weight gap mattered the most or your technique?
After the fight, many people talked about this weight gap, but no fighter is obligated to fight if he doesnâ€™t want it. If you accepted it, you know who your opponent is, the weight and the game he plays, and his manager accepted it. Fedor fought Zulu, Brett Rogers, Jong Man Choi and even heavier ones, but my work is different. I donâ€™t believe on this weight gap thing, even because heâ€™s fought many GPs without weight limit in Japan. Many people like to say heâ€™s doneâ€¦ Heâ€™s only 34, heâ€™s young and has great potential, heâ€™s been beating up everybody he faces for 10 years. Only because he lost twice now people say heâ€™s done. And the credits he earned? Theyâ€™re gone?
Do you still consider Fedor to be the greatest heavyweight of all times on MMA?
For me, Fedor is the PelĂ© of MMA, besides being a very humble guy. When he left the hospital at 5am, I was at the hotelâ€™s lobby and I talked to him and asked him not to stop fighting because he still have many things to show to the fans and that people still wanted to see him on the cage. And, after that, the guy came and kissed my foreheadâ€¦ Get it? Heâ€™s a wonderful guy, and everybody wants to see the best of all times in a good shape. Heâ€™s all about being humble.
Youâ€™ve been through many things during your career. Youâ€™ve had some visa issues in England and Minotauro helped you, youâ€™ve had the doping thing on EliteXC, when you won the belt and the event went out of businessâ€¦ How is it like to fight again and shine?
Godâ€™s ways can seem messy sometimes, everything happens when it has to. I was supposed to fight Fedor a long time ago, but he didnâ€™t accept it at the time, claiming I didnâ€™t have a big name back then. I believe my moment was this and my mind is completely different now, because Iâ€™ve gone though much Iâ€™m more experienced now. I believe that if that fight had happened before the outcome wouldnâ€™t be the same.
You were the underdog for this fight agianst Fedor, the favorite to win the Grand Prix. How do you see it now? Do you consider yourself to be the favorite to become the champion?
Iâ€™ve said before that if Iâ€™d win this fight Iâ€™d be the champion of this GP, it was like it already was the finale, but I canâ€™t forget all fighters Iâ€™ll still have to face on this GP, and theyâ€™re top ones. Now Werdum will fight Overeem, and the winner will fave me, and any of them would be a very tough opponent. But I think now Iâ€™m the favorite. This win gave me extra motivation to win and Iâ€™ll train exactly this much or more for my next fight.
You and Werdum had become great friends. How itâ€™d be like to confront him on the semifinals?
Me and Werdum laugh a lot, we jokes about everybody, I canâ€™t even describe how great he is. Heâ€™s a very nice guy, we get along well and we party every time we see each other. Weâ€™ve lunched, had dinner, went shopping together, when I was on my room I called him to run at the gym, but weâ€™re professionals. I have my family, two daughters, and he has his wife, his daughter, and if we fight each other itâ€™s for the business. We canâ€™t not fight each other just because weâ€™re friends. Two friends play against each other at soccer, even two brothers, even father and son and it wonâ€™t be any different on MMA because it a sport like the others. If we have to do it, then weâ€™ll go out for pizzas, like it happened now, and I guarantee you that the one whoâ€™s on the finale will have the otherâ€™s support, praying and cheering so that Brazil is the champion. We want Brazil to get the first place, and thatâ€™s what matters.
Do you consider helping Werdum for his fight against Overeem?
If Werdum needs me, Iâ€™ll go there and help him. A training is a training, and today weâ€™re professionals, and you end up fighting your training partner, thatâ€™s how it works. Of course I canâ€™t know his game plan for when we fight each other, but when he fights other guy I can help him. If he needs it, Iâ€™ll help him and then we fight, the training is different than the fight.
What message would you like to tell the fans that cheered for you? What they can hope of you on this GP?
Iâ€™d like to thank for the prayers of you all, to TATAME, the good vibes that you sent me. The ones who didnâ€™t, itâ€™s ok too. We have to earn peopleâ€™s trust, and I think Iâ€™m getting it. Many people didnâ€™t cheer for me, Iâ€™m sure many will start now and you can hope I train more and give my best. With Godâ€™s help, Iâ€™ll be on this finale to win this GPâ€™s title to Brazil.
By Guilherme Cruz
Photo Esther Lin