UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
Photograph by: Josh Hedges , UFC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
LAS VEGAS -- Anderson Silva has always been the coolest guy in the room.
In the cage, it looks like nothing bothers the Ultimate Fighting Championship legend. Just ask former titleholder Forrest Griffin, who in 2009 threw everything he could at Silva, only to see Silva effortlessly bob and weave his head a la Muhammad Ali before a punch out of nowhere ended Griffin's night.
Away from the action, Silva has a sly grin and playful eyes. He's rocks a casual-chic style. He strolls while everyone else is in a hurry. Yup, cooler than the other side of the pillow.
That's why the words that came out of his mouth in the weeks leading up to his middleweight title defence against No. 1 contender Chael Sonnen on Saturday night at UFC 148 were so stunning.
"He doesn't deserve to be inside the octagon, and when the time comes and the time is right, I'm going to break his face and break every one of his teeth in his mouth," said Silva (29-4).
"What I'm going to do inside the octagon is something that's going to change the image of the sport," the champ said later. "I'm going to make sure that every one of his teeth are broken, his arms are broken, his legs are broken. He's going to not be able to walk out of the octagon by himself. I can guarantee that . . . No more (expletive) talking. It's on now."
UFC president Dana White was stunned with Silva's verbiage.
"I've promoted every Anderson Silva fight since he's been in the UFC and I've never heard him talk even remotely closely like this. He usually doesn't say anything negative, disrespectful," said White.
Had Silva finally lost his cool? Did Sonnen's two-year verbal assault finally get to Silva? Would he be too emotional heading into the octagon on Saturday night?
"Nope," Silva said this week with a wry smile.
He insists that while what Sonnen said was personal, Silva isn't taking it personally. It's all about doing his job and retaining his title at MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"I'm just going to make him pay and make him eat everything that he said, not only about myself but about our country, about everything."
The first time they met, in August 2010, Sonnen pushed Silva like no UFC fighter had. Silva, 14-0 since his UFC debut in 2006, had clearly lost the first four rounds, victimized by Sonnen's superior wrestling and -- Silva later revealed -- struggling with a rib injury that occurred leading up to the fight. But in perhaps the most dramatic finish in UFC history, Silva locked in a triangle choke with just one minute 50 seconds left in the fifth and final round to submit Sonnen and retain his title.
Despite the loss, Sonnen upped his war of words even more as he campaigned for a rematch.
"All that happened was that Anderson found himself in a fight for the first time," said Sonnen (28-11). "I treated him like an amateur the first time, and he's going to look like an amateur this time."
Sonnen disparaged Silva's home country of Brazil.
"When I was a little kid, I remember going outside, I'd sit around with my friends. We'd talk about the latest technology, medicine, gaming and American ingenuity. And I look outside and Anderson and the Brazilian kids are sitting outside, playing in the mud," said Sonnen.
He pretended to snore while Silva was addressing the media at a news conference. At one point, he offered to retire should he get the match and lose to Silva.
He brought Silva's wife into the discussion. "You tell Anderson Silva I'm coming over and I'm kicking down his backdoor and patting his little lady on the ass and telling her to make me a steak, medium-rare, just how I like it," said Sonnen.
He has taken a page from pro wrestling when it comes to promoting a fight. But trash-talk aside, winning the UFC title would fulfil a dream for Sonnen.
"I've been training for combat since I was nine years old, and I've wanted to be the UFC champion since 1993. I couldn't think of a day in my life where this wasn't serious to me," said Sonnen, a former alternate with the United States Olympic wrestling team.
"It's about sacrifice and getting to the top . . . When I win this match, I will never be a closet champion."
With two years of build, White expects the event to surpass one million buys on PPV and approach the company record of 1.6 million set with UFC 100.
Those watching are going to see a main event worth remembering, says Silva.
"There's going to be no difference in the end. The first time we fought, he stepped out the loser and he's going to step out losing again this time," said Silva.
"Play time is over."
In other pay-per-view matches at UFC 148:
* In his retirement bout, UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz (17-10-1) takes on former champion Forrest Griffin (18-7) in a light heavyweight match;
* Quebec native Patrick Cote (18-7) meets Cung Le (7-2) in a middleweight contest;
* Demian Maia (15-4) squares off against Dong Hyun Kim (15-1-1, 1 NC) in a welterweight match;
* Chad Mendes (11-1) faces Cody McKenzie (13-2) in a featherweight bout;
* Montreal's Ivan Menjivar (24-8) takes on Mike Easton (12-1) in a bantamweight contest.