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Anderson Silva on greatness, Chael Sonnen, Brazil, the future

Silva3Solving Anderson Silva in an interview can be as problematic as it is for opponents who have to figure him out in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon.

Silva, 36, possesses more credentials than anyone in claiming to be the world’s most talented mixed martial arts fighter.

He hasn’t lost since ascending to the UFC middleweight championship in 2006, providing a catalogue of highlight victories since, including his stunning fifth-round submission of Chael Sonnen to retain the belt in 2010, and the wicked kick to the jaw that knocked out Vitor Belfort last year.

“I’m not the best fighter in the UFC,” Silva, 36, said Tuesday during an interview. “I’m working hard. I’m not the best. That’s just the fans’ opinion.”

Yet, when the focus turns to establishing who possibly is better, Silva strikes with indefensible replies.

Asked whether he was especially impressed with younger light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones, with all his spinning hits and kicks and acrobatics, Silva answered, “No, he’s normal.”

So which fighter impresses Silva?

“Bruce Lee,” he said.

And who does Silva believe he can’t beat?

“My clone,” said Silva, looking up from a long glance at his mobile phone with a mischievous grin.

Silva, a Brazilian who resides nearly half of the year in the South Bay and trains in Gardena, is promoting his role as the fighter on the cover of the new UFC Undisputed 3 video game that was released to the public Tuesday. He is also training for a June rematch with Sonnen at a soccer stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

UFC executives are finalizing contracts for the fight card that Silva said will include a bout between  Wanderlei Silva and Belfort.

“I’m happy, very excited for this,” Silva said. “I will train hard. Fighters love fighting, and this is a great opportunity for me.”

In August, Silva scored a technical knockout of the last man to beat him, Yushin Okami, in Rio de Janeiro.

He’ll return to Brazil with the UFC inviting the smart-mouthed, Brazilian-bashing Sonnen to the champion’s den in anticipation of a more convincing victory than Silva’s fifth-round escape in Oakland.

Silva’s manager, Ed Soares, interrupted a question to Silva and said that the champion fought Sonnen with two bruised ribs and that “[Silva] definitively beat [Sonnen] last time. Chael’s the one who gave up, he tapped out.”

Soares de-empasized that Sonnen repeatedly took Silva down and won the first four rounds before suffering the stunning loss by triangle choke.

“Chael talks too much,” Silva said. “It’s not good for the sport. I know it’s good to promote the sport and a fight, but he disrespects me, my wife, my family, my country. That’s no good for the sport. In Brazil, in my school, it’s different. We were taught to respect all people.”

So Silva would rather just settle things in the octagon?

“Yes,” he said. “In my opinion, Chael doesn’t deserve a rematch, but I’m ready for this fight. I’ll go back to my home, with my family, remembering Chael disrespects the people of Brazil, and start my focus on this fight.”

Silva has four fights remaining on his UFC contract, Soares said, and the fighter maintains he’s not compelled to leave the challenges of the 185-pound middleweight division to engage in a pound-for-pound battle with either Jones or welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre, who is injured.

When it was suggested that fight fans like to settle a pound-for-pound argument when possible, like Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Manny Pacquiao in boxing, Silva said, “Boxing is different. My class is 185, I like my class. I have my plans in life, and I don’t have the great, great, great need to try a different class. To stay in my class, to finish my career in my class, this is my goal.”

Silva said that at the end of his UFC contract he’d like to box former light-heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr., whom he ranks with Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali as the three greatest boxers of all time, and then retire.

For now, he’ll prepare for Sonnen and enjoy the U.S. debut in May of the documentary “Like Water” that details the stretch in 2010 between his disappointing victory over Demian Maia in Abu Dhabi and his remarkable Sonnen triumph.

The film’s title comes from Lee’s philosophy that humans must adapt to life like water, able to be still, flow or crash depending on the circumstances.

“I’m relaxed, happy,” Silva said. “I know some people strain to do things. Working to me--fighting--is relaxing. I never have too much pressure on me.”

ALSO:

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-- Lance Pugmire

Photo: Mixed martial arts fighter Anderson Silva. Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

 
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