Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 | 7:30 p.m.
- UFC 148 fight week expected to boost local economy
- Forrest Griffin not quite ready to join Tito Ortiz in retirement after UFC 148
- No longer holding back, Anderson Silva lashes out at Chael Sonnen with threats
- Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen II moved to Las Vegas for UFC 148
- UFC 148 section
- UFC coverage
As Chael Sonnen spit yet another insult, Anderson Silva looked down at the table below him and shook his head slowly as if to occupy himself in an attempt to ignore the words.
The middleweight champion and one of the best fighters in mixed martial arts history spent much of the UFC 148 press conference at Lagasse’s Stadium similarly. He bit his lip, fidgeted his fingers and yawned while Sonnen lived up to his standing as the king of pre-fight trash talking.
If there were any lingering questions about the genuineness of Silva’s tirade on a conference call last week, his uncomfortable nature Tuesday evaporated them.
“I have no words to really explain it except the game’s over,” Silva said through a translator. “You guys will see on Saturday night what I’m talking about it. I don’t have anything else to say except he’s screwed.”
Sonnen (28-11-1 MMA, 6-4 UFC) has loved every last threat dropped by Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC) as Saturday’s main event at the MGM Grand Garden Arena nears. Sonnen has tried to pick a fight with the champion for more than two years, he reasoned, so it’s nice to know Silva finally feels the same.
“Good for him,” Sonnen said. “Could you imagine him being phony forever? Eventually, you’ve got to come out sometimes. You’ve got to let your veil down and be yourself. The true Anderson came through and why shouldn’t it? We’re going to fight. This isn’t about respect and honor and all the crap he pretends it’s about.”
The budding animosity between Silva and Sonnen is helping sell a rematch that was already enormously anticipated and more than two years in the making. Silva spent his first few years in the UFC without a true nemesis but he’s found one in Sonnen, who spent 23 minutes beating the champion up in their first fight before falling victim to a triangle-choke submission late in the fifth round.
The UFC expects to sell more than 1 million pay-per-views and approach its record high of more than 1.5 million, set three years ago at UFC 100.
“People call this one of the biggest fights of the year,” Sonnen said. “You better check the numbers, guys. This is the biggest fight of all-time. You can bring up UFC 100, but you would have to say ‘biggest fight card’. They had a tremendous card. As a fan, I loved it, but this is the biggest fight of all-time.”
The press conference featuring Silva and Sonnen lasted 40 minutes, and could have probably stretched for hours if UFC President Dana White hadn’t cut it off.
That’s somewhat rare, as UFC media engagements often taper off naturally and White fields questions off-topic of the current card. There was none of that Tuesday.
This fight is different.
“Chael Sonnen is the only one who’s ever come close to beating Anderson,” White said. “He was minutes away from beating the best fighter ever. I’m pumped to see it again.”
White recalled “dancing in his office” when the typically reserved Silva blasted Sonnen verbally last week. White had to show off a different kind of foot speed at Lagasse’s Stadium.
When the two fighters were supposed to square up for their stare down photo, Silva dropped his shoulders and drove them into Sonnen. He kept moving forward and whispered something into Sonnen’s ear before White struggled to separate the two.
Sonnen declined an opportunity to reveal what Silva said.
“I believe the comments he made about my wife, the comments he made about my country were very disrespectful not only to me, but to my country and the UFC,” Silva said. “I believe we are very elite athletes and shouldn’t talk to each other like that.”
Sonnen isn’t reaching for any sort of stop button. At the press conference, he accused of Silva of faking like doesn’t know English and suggested replacing his translator/manager with a $9.99 cellphone app.
Sonnen also poked fun at Silva for “living in a mansion in Beverly Hills” while continuing to consider Brazil his home.
“People say it shouldn’t be personal,” Sonnen said. “Well, it is personal. This guy is coming over to my house and trying to steal. I’m going to meet him at the door with closed fists and that’s the way it should go. I don’t offer an apology and I don’t really care. If he wants to act like his feelings are hurt, where has he been for the last two years?”