After a year-long absence from the Octagon due to injury it would have been understandable if Thiago Silva had approached UFC 125 opponent Brandon Vera with caution rather than risk aggravating his damaged back or losing his third fight in four appearances. However, not only was Silva aggressive throughout the match, he handled Vera for most of the bout’s duration even going so far as to deliver a memorable series of open-handed slaps to the lanky light heavyweight’s back and head during a sequence on the mat. However, though Silva has argued his decision to do so was calculated strategy and not a means of embarrassing “The Truth”, it drew criticism from some, including 205-pound peer Jon Jones, as being disrespectful.
Silva recently spoke about his fight with Vera, addressing the sequence of strikes and Jones’ opinion, and offered a take on his scheduled scrap with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in a conversation with Tatame.
On the subject of his performance against Vera, the American Top Team trained competitor described his thought process, stating, “I was looking for the knockout, but he opened some space and practically conceded me the takedowns. He did a great job defending himself…it was hard for me to finish the fight. I’m not a good submitter, but I tried to punch him hard. He’s tough, has a good defense, but I dominated the fight.”
As far as why he may not have engaged as wildly as he would have in the past, the 15-2 Brazilian credited not only experience but an interest in preserving his career, saying, “It was my first fight after a year and we didn’t know how my back would react. I had to be more tactical. The guys are used to seeing me differently, but I’m 28 and I got three hernias. If I want to keep my career, I have to adapt and we’ll evolve little by little.”
Regarding his infamous back-bongo technique against Vera, Silva clarified his stance, stating he had broken a finger earlier in the bout and was not only protecting it but hoping to distract Vera enough to open up a choke or less-defended angle. He also made it clear fans – or fellow fighters – shouldn’t expect an apology for his strategy.
“(Jon Jones) is a jerk. Everybody’s a professional fighter and all fights include provocations. Vera said he’d break my legs; that I wasn’t on his level. I don’t say things, I do (them). You get recognized when you do things,” he explained. “I’m a professional fighter, but I can’t always please everybody. There’s always somebody behind the computer with a plate filled with French Fries ready to criticize you. I fight for the fans, for the money, and to put my name up there. Talking is too much easy. Nobody knows what goes on in your life, your training… I think I did my job. Who likes it, likes it, but you can dislike it if you want.”
Next up for Silva is a fight with former UFC light heavyweight champ Jackson who is coming off a razor-thin decision win over Lyoto Machida at UFC 123. When discussing the bout, Silva exhibited clear excitement about the opportunity at hand and stylistic pairing, elaborating on it by saying, “Our games match because we both like to fight standing. He avoids the ground game, doesn’t take the guys down, he wants to exchange. It’ll be a great fight because it’ll have a bit of everything.”
The decision win over Vera was only the second of Silva’s career as he’s finished twelve of the fifteen opponents he’s beaten (with one victory being the result of a non-contact injury). He holds past wins over Keith Jardine, Tomasz Drwal, and Houston Alexander.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC