In a recent interview with the Brazilian language SporTV, UFC Middleweight champion Anderson Silva covered a wide variety of topics.
SportTV: The opening of his film shows a scene where Bruce Lee explains that the fighter has to behave like water, shaping up to the fence. He had great influence on his professional and personal life?
Anderson Silva: I am a big fan of his … I trained Wing Chun … he was very important in both my professional and personal life. I sisn’t know him personally, but he conducted his life in martial arts with great dedication, and passed it to several generations.
STV: At the end of the (Like Water documentary) you come to train with his son, Kalyl. Have you ever wondered coach him, if he is a fighter?
AS: I get very nervous, I do not know if I could be a coach my son. If they play soccer I get nervous, imagine fighting.
STV: Have your children shown some willingness to fight?
AS: Kalyl like soccer, Gabriel likes to fight and wants to be a fighter, and John also trains. In fact, they all train, minus the girls. It’s a family tradition, and I always tell them that regardless of what you want to do in life: to be a football player, basketball, dancer, they have to learn and understand the philosophy of martial arts, and will have to train tp black belt. This is important in their lives.
STV: So no chance of seeing a dynasty in the world of MMA?
AS: A great possibility … I hope that does not happen (laughs). But, yes.
STV: We have a movie that shows the fight against Chael Sonnen, and it stays alive because of the rematch, which is one of the largest in the history.
AS: The truth is this. He is an athlete who got caught doping, I fought against him bruised, had problems with American justice, respects nothing, did not respect our country. What’s it mean? Nothing.
I respect the views and position of the promoters of the fight, the owners of the event, but I think he should not have a chance to fight me again. But this is not me who has to decide. I will prepare to fight like against any other opponent. But he disrespected our idols, who made history in the sport, like Lance Armstrong.
This guy is tricky, he has some personal problem with himself. The emphasis that the Brazilian media give this guy is bad. If any Brazilian said what he said about the USA, and American Idols, we would not even have the same opportunity to enter the country or to speak in American media. I think that Brazilians need to be more patriotic as Americans are. When I come out of Brazil, and I’ve fought in England, Japan, Korea, I always represent my country and the Brazilian people, apart from my personal side, as my family and my team.
STV: In the film we see Ed Smith, his manager, agreeing with a statement of Sonnen’s that the bows you do before and after the fights are not natural, and that if he made a bow like that in Brazil, he’d get hit in head and have his wallet stolen.
AS: This is a problem. Ed Smith and Chael Sonnen are Americans. I have practiced martial arts since age eight and was taught early on to respect any person, whether or not an they are an opponent. They do not think the same way.
STV: You’re already 36 years old. Have you ever stopped to think at the time of retirement?
AS: Everyone thinks that. I’ve imagined myself in a lake, fishing with my grandchildren and my wife calling me into the house … joke. Not thought of yet. I think I still have another ten-year career, but have not discussed my contract with the UFC. After this fight I think there are still two or three, I’m not sure. They just call me and say they need the Spider. And then I go.
STV: Speaking of Spider, you’re a fan of Spiderman. In his life, he has a character that inspired him to become a great hero, who is Uncle Ben. And you? It has some “Uncle Ben” in your life?
AS: Of course I do! My uncle and my aunt, who are the people who raised me. If it were not for them I would not be the man and father I am today. I went to Curitiba at four years of age, and all my education was given by them. So they are my “uncles” Ben … Although I have my biological parents, even today I miss (my Aunt who is deceased). Whenever I go to see my uncle in Curitiba it renews my energy. He is a very wise person, like my biological father. I miss my aunt, I was very attached to her.
STV: Of all the struggles that you did today, what is your big fight, that you review and feel that is special?
AS: My first world title in Japan at Shooto, against Hayato Sakurai in 2001. It was important to me because at any given time, everything was against me and my team, and I found myself in a situation where I was against the whole Japan. At the time the fighters had to enter a runway and we take our things to leave them there before entering. At that time an organizer came and told me to get all my stuff away, because the champion had just passed, and only they could pass that way and leave their stuff there. I had already started to take my things away, and it was a bad sign. My coach at the time, Sergio Cunha, gave me an earful. He said: “Are you crazy? Leave your stuff there, you’ll come back here. If this is where the champions are, it is here that you will return. You go there and in five minutes you will come back. It was what happened.”
STV: Who in history do you most want to fight?
AS: My clone. I train to fight the best fighters in the world, and the worst possible situations. But I want to fight even with my clone, would be a fantastic fight. I can not say that I would like to fight so and sicano. If you ask me with whom you would like to fight in a boxing match, I would say Roy Jones Jr. is a dream that I have as a professional fight.
STV: What’s the worst moment of his career?
AS: When I was in Pride, and I didn’t know if I would stop fighting or not after leaving my team at the time. It was politics and I did not return to fight in Pride. I was a little frustrated.
STV: You’re more reserved than the average top fighters in MMA, but some interviews controversial in some people’s opinion. Are you egotistical?
AS: You’re a reporter, you know how things work. I can tell you put A, and they say A, B, C and D. Depends on the integrity of those who interview. But I do not think egotistically. I am as I am. I try to be better every day, but I’m not perfect. I have my flaws, not pleased with everything, but I like what I’m seeing.
STV: You see yourself as one of the great sports heroes of Brazil, like Pele, Ayrton Senna or Guga Kuerten?
AS: No. I think I can … make a difference to the children of our country. My big goal is this, change the heroes of Brazil. We are managing to do this, but much remains. I want children to see MMA athletes as their heroes, especially those who have no access to culture as wealthier kids do. The UFC does an excellent job of marketing the image of athletes and our work around the world.
STV: Royce Gracie once said that every fighter needs to have a base in MMA. Junior Dos Santos’s is boxing. Royce’s is jiu-jitsu. And yours? Is it muay thai? Or do you considered yourself a mixed martial arts fighter?
AS: I have to disagree with the master Royce. I train all aspect, so as not to lose ground to other athletes. I have many specialties in tkicking, because I trained boxing, capoeira, tae kwon do, wing chun, hapkido, and I feel safer in these forms of struggle. But I train wrestling, wrestling, I had the opportunity to go to a Xingu tribe in their struggle to learn, and loved it. It makes you adapt to the system, and if you’re not well prepared, and have no knowledge of certain techniques, you end up putting yourself at risk.
When you know and dominate a sport, you become an expert at it. But when you study and devote time of your life to learn about other areas and specialize in MMA, you learn its limits within each separate mode, and can handle what happens inside the Octagon, learning to avoid risk and not get hurt seriously. I do not fight to win. I train to exit the same way I entered the Octagon. Martial arts is not intended for attack, but for defense.