RIO DE JANEIRO – When you’re considered by oddsmakers as a 12-to-1 favorite heading into a fight, chances are you don’t stand to gain much by defeating an opponent you apparently should outclass.
And so it is with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva (32-4 MMA, 15-0 UFC), who by most accounts is expected to absolutely destroy Stephan Bonnar (14-7 MMA, 8-6 UFC) in the main event of Saturday’s UFC 153 event.
But “The Spider” says he doesn’t see the fight as all risk and no reward. Instead, as he seeks an incomprehensible 16th straight UFC win, Silva believes the light heavyweight contest is a chance to build on his already impressive legacy.
“For me, this is the big show,” Silva told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). “This is part of my legacy. This is continuing my legacy.
“I love my job. I love the UFC. Dana talked to me for this fight, and I’m here, and I’m ready. I can’t wait for Saturday.”
Silva, of course, was booked for the card when original headliner Jose Aldo was forced out of the main event with an injury. With precious few options available to the promotion, UFC President Dana White turned to Silva as a last-ditch possibility. He asked “The Spider” to fight at light heavyweight for a third time in his UFC career in a main-event bout against Bonnar.
Silva quickly committed to the bout.
On paper, Silva is certainly the more skilled athlete, but Bonnar has made a career out of simply being tough as nails, and in what could potentially serve as the final bout of his career, “The American Psycho” has everything to gain and absolutely no pressure at all.
So the downside really only falls to Silva. Not only can he absolutely not afford to lose, but even a so-so victory could mean a hit to his legendary reputation.
Silva said the downside was no concern.
“The UFC is the big show,” Silva said. “There are a lot of people in the world watching the UFC. This is my job. I love my job.”
Silva’s past two moves to 205 pounds both proved successful, as he scored knockout wins over Forrest Griffin and James Irvin. At 6-foot-2, his body can certainly carry the weight, and at 37 years old, not cutting weight is probably fairly pleasant, as well.
Still, Silva didn’t want to focus too much on the different feel of the weight class and instead seemed to insist it was simply another trip to the octagon.
“Maybe I’m stronger, faster,” Silva said. “I don’t know. I guess I feel the same. A fight is a fight.”
Except sometimes it’s not. Silva is certainly capable of defeating Bonnar in highlight-reel fashion. But not only can he do so, he honestly needs to deliver on such a finish if he’s to prove the incredible wagering odds were justified and that he (and not Jon Jones or Georges St-Pierre) is still the best fighter on the face of the planet.
If Silva is feeling even one ounce of that pressure, the 15-year veteran isn’t letting on.
“I’m very excited for this fight in Brazil,” Silva said. “My family, my team and I are all very happy and very excited.
“I just want to finish the fight and go back with my family. That’s it.”
“UFC 153: Silva vs. Bonnar” takes place Saturday at Rio de Janeiro’s HSBC Arena. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on FX and Facebook.