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Loss to Lyoto Machida is all the motivation Thiago Silva needs

Brazilian knows win over Keith Jardine could launch him right back up the 205-pound ladder

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Sam Morris

Lyoto Machida celebrates after knocking out Thiago Silva in the final seconds of the first round of their bout at UFC 94 on January 31, 2009 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

UFC 102 Workouts

Randy Couture, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Keith Jardine and Thiago Silva work out for the media before Saturday's UFC 102 event in Portland, Oregon.

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Thiago Silva listens to a reporter's question after a workout Wednesday, August 26, 2009 at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The tattoos that run on both his forearms serve as constant reminders of the incredible journey and faith it took for Thiago Silva to become one of the UFC’s top light heavyweights.

But the ink can’t illustrate the heartbreak of failing for the first time.

“You come from a series of victories and all of a sudden you lose, it really messes you up,” said the 26-year-old Silva (13-1), who suffered his first setback to undefeated 205-pound champ Lyoto Machida in January at UFC 94 at the MGM Grand.

“It’s the first fight that you lose, of course it was difficult.”

But Silva says much like his poor struggles as a teenager in São Paulo, Brazil, the stinging loss to Machida only served as experience to become stronger.

The American Top Team fighter hopes to turn that lesson, and newfound motivation, into a victory over Keith Jardine Saturday night at UFC 102.

But much like Machida, Jardine’s unconventional style makes that task a tough one.

“He’s unpredictable because of his unorthodox style. That’s the biggest challenge,” said Silva of Jardine, who may be coming off a loss to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson but owns victories over Forrest Griffin and Chuck Liddell.

“Every fight presents its difficulties and, yes, it's true that they (Machida and Jardine) were a little hard to train for, but I’m coming in well prepared. I’m ready to do what I need to do.”

For starters, that is doing a better job of managing his weight and his physical condition. Silva said he had to cut 40 pounds for his match with Machida but only needed to trim 15 or so pounds for Jardine.

“I thought I wasn’t really prepared physically. I came in too heavy and I won’t commit this error again,” said Silva, who won his first four UFC fights by TKO or submission.

“I’m coming in very focused, very well prepared. I always come with the same attitude. I come to bang, I come to fight, I come to mix it up.”

Jardine’s trainer, Greg Jackson, wouldn’t expect anything else.

“I’m expecting a full war. On our feet, on the ground, in the clinch,” Jackson said on the UFC’s 102 Countdown show on Spike TV.

“Because that’s Thiago’s style and Keith is never afraid to mix it up. I think it’s gonna be bang, bang, bang.”

Despite a pair of vicious TKOs of Tomasz Drwal and Houston Alexander, Jackson says the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is just as skilled on the ground as standing.

“He’s got a great chin, he can take a hard shot. He’s very crafty on his feet and very crafty on the ground as well,” Jackson said. “He’s got a lot of heart and he’s got a lot of determination.”

Silva said he hopes he has enough heart to get through Jardine and whatever other challengers stand in his way with a rematch with Machida.

“I have no loss of confidence. I’m here to prove I’m one of the top (fighters) and continue on my road. I want to fight him again. I want a rematch.

“I’m gonna fight whoever it is, as many times until I’m ready.”

Andy Samuelson can be reached at [email protected] or 702-948-7837.

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