Story by Anthony Springer Jr.
Question: When does a professional fight cross over from the professional into the personal?
Answer: When the fighters have to be separated at the pre-fight press conference.
Sure, pre-fight press conference antics make headlines in boxing, but after near-brawls, actual brawls and trash talk made headlines in the “Sweet Science,” the spectacle of it all became less shocking and more expected. In the world of mixed martial arts, having security step in between two fighters before the opening bell is still… well, a bit awe inspiring.
Such was the case today as Anderson Silva—who just minutes before, said he would keep it “professional”—had to be physically separated from his UFC 148 challenger Chael Sonnen, first by UFC President Dana White, and then by event security (to be fair, security also grabbed Sonnen).
Silva barely cracked a smile during the half-hour affair. Sonnen, conversely, was in rare form, offering no apologies for his wise cracks and antics that preceded the days’ events. Nothing—absolutely nothing—was off limits in the two year run up to the fight. Targets of the challengers’ verbal bombs included Silva’s record, the country (yes, the entire country) of Brazil and Silva’s wife.
When asked if he crossed the line, Sonnen grabbed the mic and cut a promo that rivals anything we’ve seen in the WWE in years.
“If you’re not willing to go too far, you will never go far enough,” Sonnen quipped when asked if he’d crossed the line. “Listen guys, I don’t care. I don’t promote fights, I pick fights. I’m like Jon Jones, I sound like Sean Combs and I’ve got trombone sized stones like John Holmes.”
At the other end of the podium, Silva offered little in the way of a rebuttal, merely insisting that things would change after Saturday.
“Playtime is over,” he said through translator, Ed Soares. “Saturday a lot of things are going to change. It’s going to be much different after Saturday.”
For a guy who pushed Silva to his limit in the original fight, the champion balked when asked about Sonnen’s wrestling and seemingly improved striking skills.
“For him to be able to strike with me he has to be a magician. It’s impossible for him to strike with me.”
Proving that he’s not entirely oblivious to the last few years of MMA history, Sonnen did manage one relatively minor compliment when asked about Silva’s accomplishments in the sport. But in a move reminiscent of deceased rapper ODB’s “Puffy is good, but Wu-Tang is the best” impromptu speech at the 1998 Grammy Awards, Sonnen couldn’t praise the champion too much.
“His record speaks for itself,” Sonnen said. “He’s a good durable fighter but I am the best. He’s a martial artist, I’m a cage fighter. There’s a difference.”
Silva, clearly fed up, is tired of talking and is ready to fight.
“The game is over. You guys will see on Saturday what I’m talking about. I don’t’ have anything else to say other than, ‘He’s screwed.’”
Despite not being tired of talking, Sonnen is also ready to fight.
“There’s no gamesmanship here,” Sonnen replied when asked about whether his previous trash talk and Silva’s uncharacteristically angry responses were an effort to distract the champion. “He erupted and the real Anderson came through. He tried to talk down to me like I’m Vitor Belfort and I’m going to wilt in the corner. I’ve been picking a fight for two years and I found one.”
. . . .
Coming up next: UFC® 148: SILVA vs. SONNEN 2 will be available live on Pay-Per-View at 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT on UFC.TV, iN DEMAND, DirecTV, DISH Network, Avail-TVN, and in Canada on BellTV, Shaw Communications, Sasktel, and Viewer’s Choice Canada for a suggested retail price of $44.99 US/$49.99 CAN for Standard Definition and $54.99 US/$59.99 CAN for High Definition. For more on the UFC or UFC 148 visit www.UFC.com