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UFC 156:

Bigfoot Silva forces Alistair Overeem to eat his words, possibly earns title shot

Dana White “not opposed” to having Silva rematch Cain Velasquez

Image

Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Antonio Silva hits Alistair Overeem with a right during their fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva won with a third round TKO.

UFC 156 - Silva vs. Overeem

Referee Herb Dean pulls Antonio Silva away as Silva yells at Alistair Overeem to get up during their fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Silva won with a third round TKO. Launch slideshow »

UFC 156 - Evans vs. Nogueira

Rogerio Nogueira celebrates his win over Rashad Evans after their fight at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Nogueira won by decision. Launch slideshow »

UFC 156 - Aldo vs. Edgar

Jose Aldo reacts after retaining his featherweight belt after winning a unanimous decision over Frankie Edgar at UFC 156 Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. Launch slideshow »

From dismissive to dismissed, Alistair Overeem crashed to one of the biggest falls in mixed martial arts history Saturday at UFC 156 — literally and figuratively.

Overeem walked into the Mandalay Bay Events Center one win away from a heavyweight title shot. He held his head high and exuded confidence with every dance move he made to the trendy electronic music blasting overhead.

The 264-pound behemoth left after collapsing to the canvas of the octagon unconscious. Overeem could muster no motion as the man who put him there towered over him yelling. It was Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva’s way of repaying the blatant disrespect Overeem had showed him for months.

“When he punches, he’s a lion,” Silva said. “But if I punch him, he’s a cat.”

Much like he did against Fedor Emelianenko in Strikeforce two years ago, “Bigfoot” defied the odds to strip away the façade of invincibility that accompanied Overeem. Silva, as high as a 4-to-1 underdog according to oddsmakers, landed a flurry of punches to knock out Overeem 25 seconds into the third round and hand him a loss for the first time since 2007.

Silva put a little extra into his strikes on this night after Overeem called him slow and claimed he had nothing threatening to offer. Oops. Those proclamations came off as foolish well before Silva forced the crowd to gasp at the brutality he unleashed on Overeem.

Even though Overeem won the first two rounds, he failed to impress the 10,275 spectators in the arena. He never looked like a fighter a level above Silva as he billed himself.

Overeem took the first round mostly by pressing Silva against the fence. In the second round, Overeem took Silva down and landed a host of heavy ground-and-pound shots.

But none of them hurt, according to Silva, who said he started to let Overeem exhaust himself with strikes that were ineffective.

“I confused his mind,” Silva said. “All the time he punched, he breathed hard. He wasn’t ready for the final round.”

Bigfoot’s corner men directed him to throw a specific combination, punctuated by an uppercut, to start the final round. He followed the directions and, boom, a thud so loud it could have caused minor ear damage accompanied Overeem’s plunge.

With that, Silva went from someone in the crowded background of heavyweight title picture to the fighter in the forefront. UFC champion Cain Velasquez already beat Silva last year, but that’s not enough to shoot down his viability as a top contender after this showing.

“The way he looked in this fight and what he did to Alistair, I wouldn’t mind doing that fight again,” UFC President Dana White. “I wouldn’t be opposed to that.”

Upon hearing news like that in a post-fight press conference, some fighters affirm to White how much they want the opportunity or at least nod and smile in agreement. But Silva stayed stoic.

Silva wants to become a champion, don’t get him wrong, he was just in no mood to campaign.

“Now I will go back home, stay with my family and, in two weeks, go back to training,” Silva said. “I just want to fight the best. The best heavyweights are here in the UFC. If Dana, Joe Silva and the UFC want to give another opportunity to fight Cain Velasquez, it would be a pleasure.”

Looking forward to some time off instead of the next challenge sounded especially acceptable after the Overeem victory. Emotions ran high in this fight.

Long before the taunts, Silva had an issue with Overeem. Silva felt betrayed last year when his team at the time, the Miami-based Blackzilians, allowed Overeem to join their camp.

Silva didn’t feel comfortable training alongside another UFC heavyweight he may encounter in the future, so he bailed and joined nearby American Top Team. He took a subtle shot at Blackzilians after beating Overeem, remarking they were more concerned with running a business than building camaraderie.

Bigfoot felt like he proved something to the Brazilians -- and everyone else.

“I showed the world you guys are wrong about me,” Silva said. “And I showed specifically to Overeem how he should respect the other fighter.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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