By Bryan Cross
At UFC 112, Anderson Silva will put his middleweight title on the line, when he faces Demian Maia on Saturday night. Widely perceived as the best striker in all of mixed martial arts, Silva regained his status as a fan favorite in August of last year in a match up with Forrest Griffin, which he won in three minutes and 23 seconds, completely dominating.
That fight was a long way from previous title defenses, such as the bouts between Chris Leben, Rich Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Dan Henderson and James Irvin, in which Silva was chastised for coming off as trying not to lose, rather than being aggressive and powerful fighter that he is.
Against Griffin at UFC 101 however, Silva was in vintage form, completely destructing his opponent and proving why he is one of the most feared fighters in UFC.
However, when asked about it, Silva continues to remain as if it is always business as usual.
“I train very hard for every fight, and that fight was no different,” Silva told UFC.com. “I went in the Octagon and did my job correctly; I did what I trained to do.”
Roughly eight months removed from the octagon, Silva will make his long-awaited appearance on Saturday night after recovering from an injury to his elbow which has kept the fighter sidelined. He stated however that in spite of the layoff, he feels that he is sharp and had trained effectively.
“I missed the contact, the training, doing what I like to do,” Silva said, “but I had time to take care of myself and also do something I love doing, which is to teach and coach the younger guys.”
His opponent, Maia, is a fill-in at UFC 112, after Vitor Belfort had to withdraw sighting an injury to his shoulder which he had surgery for in February.
“My team and I had been working hard and were prepared to face Vitor,” said Silva, “but like I always say, I train to fight the best, so I feel prepared physically and mentally to face the toughest opponents in the UFC.”
Maia is likely to present Silva with the most difficult grappling opponent the veteran has seen, and Silva knows that Maia will not be easily defeated.
“Demian is a tough fighter and everybody knows about his skills on the ground, but we can’t say that he will easily get me on the ground or that I will easily get him on our feet,” remarked Silva. “A fight is a fight, and anything can happen when two top fighters face each other. It will be a great fight.”
In a classic striker versus the grappler, this fight puts two slightly contrasting styles against each other, and should make for an entertaining battle.
“My training remains the same,” Silva said. “We have created a strategy for this fight, and thankfully I have guys like Andre Galvao, the Nogueira brothers, Ramon Lemos and Rafael Feijao training with me. I train my ground game everyday in practice, so I feel that if the fight goes to the ground I will be prepared, but my focus is always my stand up game which is my flagship.”
Silva has been installed as an asserted -800 favorite on Online Sportsbooks to retain his title and defeat Maia on Saturday night at UFC 112. Maia assumes the underdog role, going off at +500.