Just over 48 hours before his fight with the ultra dangerous Quinton “Rampage" Jackson, Wanderlei Silva relaxes in his hotel in Tokyo, Japan. Although he eagerly awaits Sunday’s big showdown, Silva does his best to stay calm and relaxed amidst the final pre-fight activities.
As cameras snap and journalists stick microphones in his face, the man known as “The Axe Murderer" remains singularly focused on the task at hand - defeating Rampage impressive fashion. Make no mistake about it: This is more than just business, it’s personal.
“He talked a lot about our last fight saying that he had more trouble with (Chuck) Liddell than me with (Hidehiko) Yoshida so he was quite tired (heading into the finals of the middleweight grand prix)," Silva told InsideFighting from Tokyo. “So let's see on Sunday when we are in the same condition. All my fights I make personal. In the ring, I see my opponent as my enemy that I must beat."
But there’s more to his fights than just winning. Silva respects and appreciates the fans for paying their hard earned money to see him fight. Accordingly, it is very important to him to be as entertaining as possible each time he steps into a Pride ring.
“I care about winning to prove to myself and to everyone that I'm the Champion of Pride and I know about my responsibilities with my fans to give them what they want to see into the ring, a huge show from Silva," he said.
To give the crowd a huge show, as Silva puts it, he tries to stay as relaxed and focused as possible in the 24 hours leading up to the fight. He spends most of that time thinking about the fight, reading and praying while relaxing in his hotel room.
On fight day, however, it becomes more difficult to simply rest and relax in his room because the competitive juices begin to flow.
“On the day of the fight, I want to go soon to the stadium, but try to be calm and confident," he explained.
Confidence is something that Silva personifies at all times leading up to the fight. When his name is finally called to fight, Silva cannot get to the ring quickly enough. He walks to the ring with a purpose, almost oblivious to the tens of thousands of fans cheering around him.
(Silva feels the rematch with Jackson will end similarly to the first fight)
“The victory," Silva said when asked what goes through his mind as he walks down the Pride ramp. “That I am at my best and it is time to show my skills in a great performance. I think about God and ask him to protect me and to give me power to reach my goal and to give a good show to the audience."
Once in the ring, Silva begins waging war with his mind even before he is legally allowed to touch his opponent. Ever in search of an edge, Silva uses final in-ring stare down as an opportunity to get inside his opponent’s head.
“You know that I read a lot during the travels and in my free time," he explained when asked about his famous stare downs. “I like to read books about behavior and I understand that (I can use) the psychological (tactics) to help to intimidate my opponent, so I start to win the fight at this moment."
Once the bell sounds on Sunday, Silva will face what many experts believe to be the toughest opponent of his career. Although he defeated Rampage by first round technical knockout in their first fight, many, including Rampage, believe that the challenger will be much better prepared this time around. So they view this as a very different fight.
Silva disagrees. He sees Rampage as the same man and the rematch as the same fight. Of course, the confident champion predicts that he will knock out Rampage yet again.
According to Silva, in order secure the knockout, he must “be aggressive, very fast" while avoiding Rampage’s ground and pound game. “I want to exchange with him using my Muay Thai skills the same way that I did in our last fight," he said.
And his message to Rampage Jackson 48 hours before the fight, “I read that he is a religious guy now. I hope that is true because we must not play with God’s word. And (tell him) that my belt will stay with me for a while."
Even though Sunday’s fight is in Japan and Silva is Brazilian, he still keeps his American fans in his thoughts as High Octane approaches.
“I know that Jackson is American, but when I went to Las Vegas in the UFC I felt that the American audience admires me and I respect them in the same way," he said. “A lot of fans come to change some words with me and to say that they support me. I respect all my American fans and my message for them: ‘War just in the ring, peace on Earth.’"
In appreciation for his American fans and InsideFighting readers around the world, Silva ended with this thought: “For my American fans and friends from InsideFighting.com, we have some exclusive pictures of my last training in São Paulo before the travel to Japan. I'M READY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!"