Anderson Silva (31-4 MMA, 14-0 UFC) said today that he took a second fight with Chael Sonnen (27-11-1 MMA, 6-4 UFC) not only because the UFC employs him, but out of a duty to make Sonnen answer for his words.
He didn't reach this conclusion, however, until he'd fought a verbal three-hour fight with UFC president Dana White in a hotel room as the media waited for them to announce the rematch.
"I guess sometimes, my opinion doesn't make too much of a difference, but I'm here to fight whoever they put in front of me," Silva today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com).
A lively back-and-forth between Silva and Sonnen at a pre-event press conference for UFC 148 concluded with Silva going chest-to-chest with the challenger and forcing White and officials to separate them.
It's been mostly Sonnen who's lobbed verbal stones at Silva in advance of their highly anticipated rematch Saturday at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. But Silva fired back this past week during a media call in support of UFC 148 and today at the pre-event gathering at Lagasse’s Stadium in The Palazzo Las Vegas.
On Monday, as MMAjunkie.com reported, White revealed the behind-the-scenes drama that unfolded just prior to a press conference for the original destination of the second bout: UFC 147. The April presser, which was held in Rio de Janeiro, was expected to cement the long-anticipated rematch.
But White said there was no bout agreement in place. Middleweight champ Silva didn't want a second fight with Sonnen, whom he submitted in the fifth round of a thrilling fight two years prior at UFC 117. And he didn't want to fight him in Las Vegas at UFC 148, where the bout was rebooked when a soccer stadium set to host UFC 147 could not be secured for the June 23 event.
Eventually, Silva signed his UFC 148 bout agreement in White's hotel room and attended the press conference, averting a potential embarrassment. His anger over the situation, however, continued to boil over.
The tirade on the UFC 148 media call resulted, in part, when the UFC got wind that he might no-show. White got on the phone and ordered him to participate.
Sitting at the podium today for UFC 148, which includes a pay-per-view main card, Silva appeared calmer, but also as though he was holding himself in check as Sonnen goaded him throughout the 60-minute gathering.
During the extended Q&A portion of the event, he several times repeated promises made on the media call, saying "game is over" for Sonnen.
"You guys will see on Saturday night what I'm talking about," Silva said. "I don't have anything else to say other than he's screwed."
He also explained the reasoning behind his opposition to the rematch.
"It's not even so much about me," Silva said. "[Chael] was at his most dominant position for most of the fight. If I was in my most dominant position for a few seconds, the fight wouldn't have went the way it went.
"I know that my ribs were injured. I'm not making excuses. I'm more explaining everything. But the other fighters that I've faced in the UFC are much more qualified than Chael. I beat a guy up for five rounds in Abu Dhabi, and this guy submitted [Sonnen] in seconds. So to me, I just don't think this guy deserves it."
Whether it was hatred, money or White's persistence – or all three – that convinced him otherwise, Silva said he will do his job on Saturday night.
"I'm here because I love what I do," he said. "The minute I came into the UFC, Dana and (UFC CEO) Lorenzo (Fertitta) have always treated me very well."