Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva secured what was arguably the biggest win of professional MMA career on Feb. 2, upsetting Alistair Overeem at UFC 156.
With the win, Silva propelled himself into the heavyweight title picture, and the Brazilian is interested in a rematch against current champ, Cain Velasquez — who manhandled him at UFC 146.
“I am highly interested in facing Cain Velasquez again,” Silva said during a conversation with MMAJunkie.com. “He’s a great champion. He’s a great person — very humble. When we first faced off, I didn’t get much of a chance to fight. He had the right strategy. He has a great team guiding him. His strategy worked. My forehead was cut open few seconds into the fight. I was struggling to try to see. I wasn’t having any success. So I was left knowing I could have done better. I have nothing personal against Velasquez.”
Given how brutal their UFC 146 encounter was, it’s a little surprising Silva is eager to step inside the Octagon against Velasquez. Cain outclassed Bigfoot in 2012, and it’s hard to see things going any differently if the two meet again, unless Silva significantly improves his takedown defense.
It’s worth nothing that Overeem was able to take Silva down with relative ease at UFC 156, so it looks like Bigfoot still has a long way to go in terms of improving his takedown defense.
Still, Silva deserves a lot of credit for being willing to step inside the Octagon against a man who literally turned his face into a bloody mess.
As Velasquez — who reclaimed the heavyweight title at UFC 155 after losing his first fight against Junior dos Santos — knows, anything can happen inside the Octagon, so it wouldn’t be fair to completely rule out Silva’s chances against Cain in a rematch.
“I am a UFC employee, so I don’t choose my opponents,” Silva added. “My job is to train, stay healthy physically and mentally, and show my best in the cage. If I could choose, I would pick Cain. But it’s up to the UFC to pick my opponent. I’ll do whatever my boss decides. And of course, every fighter has to travel a certain gauntlet of opponents and write his own history. That’s how Junior Dos Santos and Cain Velasquez did it. … So if I must face others, I simply ask that I get to face the best opponents.”
While it’s rational to say Silva earned a shot at the UFC’s heavyweight title with his win against Overeem, his performance inside the cage wasn’t that impressive. Alistair controlled the first two rounds of their UFC 156 encounter, out-striking, out-grappling, and overpowering Silva. While it was a big win for Antonio, it might not be enough to get him a shot at the UFC’s heavyweight picture.
Silva might be better off picking a fight with dos Santos, with the winner getting the next shot at the heavyweight title. Velasquez has already stated his intentions to defend his belt during the summer, which should give the UFC enough time to hold a number one contender bout.