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October 30, 2014

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Despite last showing, Silva says he’ll be strong at UFC 97

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UFC

UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva kicks Patrick Cote in their fight at UFC 90. Silva won by third-round TKO due to injury.

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Anderson Silva hits James Irvin with a knockout at 1:01 in the first round of their UFC bout at the Palms.

Beyond the Sun

UFC 97

  • Who: Anderson Silva (23-4-0) vs. Thales Leites (14-1); Chuck Liddell (21-6-0) vs. Mauricio Rua (17-3)
  • When: Saturday, April 18
  • Where: Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada
  • TV: Pay per view, $44.95

Fans and media alike were wondering what exactly happened to the Anderson Silva they came to know as arguably the baddest mixed martial artist on the planet last October in his weird win over Patrick Cote at UFC 90 outside of Chicago.

“I think I’m living in an alternate universe,” UFC President Dana White told reporters after the event. “That was bizarro world.”

Reports came out that Silva actually went back to his locker room and continued to spar after defeating Cote by injury default when his leg blew out in the third round.

But Silva said he didn’t do so in anger.

“I did do a couple more rounds of sparring in the back, but that wasn’t because I was necessarily upset about the fight,” the Brazilian striker said through his translator Ed Soares.

“It was just because with our training my strength and conditioning coach has always trained me to fight five rounds so you know our muscle memory and our body’s used to you know utilizing the full five rounds.”

Silva (23-4 MMA, 8-0 UFC) — who with the win had just secured his record-tying eighth UFC victory and fourth title defense — insisted he was motivated for the fight against Cote, even though he didn’t display the type of aggression that has put up at the top of MMA pound-for-pound charts.

“On the contrary to what people think, I was very, very motivated for that Patrick Cote fight,” Silva said.

But just in case there are any doubters left, “The Spider” promised an even better showing Saturday when he faces Thales Leites at UFC 97 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada.

A win will make him the only man in the 15-year history of the UFC to reach 9-0 in the Octagon.

But Silva said he’s not even thinking about that mark.

“I don’t pay too much attention to the record,” he said. “It doesn’t mean that much. What’s important to me is to step into the octagon and give the public and the world a good performance.”

Leites (14-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC), whose only loss in the cage is to Martin Kampmann in the finale of the fourth-season of “The Ultimate Fighter,” probably has to be thinking about upgrading a good performance to that of a perfect night if he’s going to get the best of Silva.

While few are picking the Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist (he’s a 5-to-1 underdog) to win, there are others who believe Leites could pull a Matt Serra and walk out of the Octagon as middleweight champ.

The Rio de Janeiro native is confident in his own opinion.

“The first thing is I have to believe in me. I’ve been waiting for this chance for a long time,” said Leites, who scored a submission victory over Drew McFedries in his last bout, which also took place at UFC 90.

“And now I’m here fighting with the best pound-for-pound in the world, and I still have to believe in me. I know I can do it. I have two arms and two legs like him and everyone else. I know that I can beat him. I know it will be a hard time and the greatest fight of my life, but I can do it.”

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