One of the biggest names in the UFC is Anderson “Spider” Silva. He has been called the “greatest martial artist of all time” and has an unbelieveable record inside the Octagon. Depite that, Silva is described as “soft spoken”, wears eyeglasses in everyday life and hates any kind of violence outside the Octagon.
Silva came from a humble background in Curitiba, Brazil and the 37 year-old fighter dreams of someday being an example for the young people of Brazil.
In this exclusive interview with the Brazilian news site Estadao, the champ talks about training, Bruce Lee and his future.
How intense is your training?
Anderson Silva: In times of competition, training starts at 9:00 a.m. and runs until 10:30 a.m. Then I train from noon to 2:00p.m. and again at 6:00 p.m. There is physiotherapy for four months of preparation for a fight. When the competition gets closer, it changes a bit. With specific training in sparring, cardio and fitness.
And your diet?
Anderson Silva: “In a competitive season, the diet is a bit stiffer, because I need to lose weight. Generally, I cut salt, sugar and avoid too many carbohydrates. It’s a team effort. Miguel Vieira, my nutritionist, has been doing a fantastic job with me, along with Dr. Angela Cortes, my physical therapist, Dr. Rogério Camões, my trainer, and Dr. Márcio Tannure, my physiologist. All so I can hit the 184 pounds without any problem, without losing mass, and suffering no fatigue, or injuries.”
Do you have a favorite style of martial arts?
Anderson Silva: I usually feel the same love for all fighting styles. I train in boxing, jiu-jitsu, capoeira (which was where I started), tae-kwon-do and muay thai (which is my flagship). I also like judo because it gives me peace and helps me recover if I suffer a fall in the Octagon. I respect all forms of fighting, including those which I do not train.“
You are aged 37 Is there an age when the fighter begins to change in the Octagon?
Anderson Silva: “Oh, of course. Because there is a thing called responsibility. From the moment you start you have to be prepared to lose. When I started trying things in fights, it was on the basis of ‘if it works, great, if it does not.’ This becomes more difficult with age. When I was a kid, I got to take blows from TV shows and movie scenes and try them in my fights. I risked blows.”
And they worked out for you?
Anderson Silva: “Thank God, most worked, yes. Today I do not do that anymore. Sure there is talent, but the most important consideration is to have responsibility. With age, you will realize that there are some things you can not take chances.”
Did you have the notion that MMA would become so big?
Anderson Silva: “No, I did not. What I knew and always believed, was that good training would make me as good as my teachers who trained me. But when I started, there was not MMA. I saw Vitor Belfort at a UFC fight, which is the creation of Rorion Gracie and Royce Gracie. I saw, Pedro Rizzo, Marco Ruas, André Pederneiras and never imagined myself fighting MMA. Suddenly, I was completely involved. And you know what? I often joke that I’m better teacher than fighter – because I spent my whole life being preparing to become a martial arts teacher. We really had no idea what would happen in my life.”
You could say that you were the right guy at the right time?
Anderson Silva: “No doubt. I think God gave me the talent and opportunity, and has placed the right people in my path so I could get where I am.”
Do you believe in God? How is your religious life?
Anderson Silva: “I believe we must have faith. God is a higher being, which provides us good things, gives us the opportunity to be here. For me, it is important to believe, yes. I believe regardless of religion, because God is in attitudes.”
And family life? After all, five children is not easy, right?
Anderson Silva: “(laughs) It’s crazy! My family moved to Los Angeles, my wife (Dayane) and my two children from this marriage (Kalyl, 13, and Kaory, 16). Already Gabriel (14), John (10) and Kauana (12) living in Brazil. Let me just explain this: they are the result of three relationships that did not work during the years I was separated from my wife. So it’s pretty crazy.”
Why the nickname Spider?
Anderson Silva: “I have always been a fan of Spider-Man, a hero wracked with human suffering. What happened is that before a fight, early in my career, I was wearing a shirt with a drawing of the character. When I was announced, they said ‘Anderson Silva, Brazil’s Spider.’ Then it took off.”
Who was your toughest opponent?
Anderson Silva: “Every opponent I faced in my life was well trained. But my hardest fight was the first one because everything was new, there was that aura, right? Another fight that really struck me was the one that gave me my first world title in 2001 against Hayato Sakurai in Japan. He was beating everyone by knockout, eight Brazilians in a row. I was young and had no experience. The guy was superfamous and had a legion of fans.”
What are your plans after retirement?
Anderson Silva: “I want to be an actor in action movies, with five children in the family, and delivering devastating knockouts. Only, I want a character whose story has all the makings of a blockbuster.”
Will you turn into TV heartthrob?
Anderson Silva: “No, no, but I’m training. I think everything is a matter of preparing. One of my goals in life is to be an actor, doing action movies, in the style of Mission: Impossible. I’ll start taking classes now, but heartthrob that’s too complicated (laughs). I’m well represented by 9ine, we have done a nice job, but does not reach that far. The goal is to build my image outside the octagon, as an example for children, for young people. This is the most important mission. Do not just put a fighter on magazine covers.”
Are there any social projects you are currently working on?
Anderson Silva: “In Corinthians, which is my team, we’re doing work with underprivileged children who live in the area where the club is. It is the academy bearing my name, which opened there last year at the headquarters in Itaquera. Already in Rio de Janeiro, we have the Nogueira brothers (Minotauro and Rogério Nogueira), my masters, leading a cool project which I also participate. Unfortunately, because of my schedule, I’m not always present. But when I stop fighting, I want to follow more closely.”
And when is it time to stop fighting?
Anderson Silva: “I guess I can get over a 6-year battle. I love what I do, the team that works with me does a fantastic job, never had a serious injury that kept me away from competition. So I think I have this little while longer.”
Who are your idols?
Anderson Silva: “I am the biggest fan of Bruce Lee. I especially like his philosophy of Jeet Kune Do. But I’m also a fan of Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones Jr. those are guys for whom I tip my hat. Outside the ring, I would say Michael Jordan, Pele and Ronaldo. People think I say this because of my contract with 9ine, but it is not.”
Would you have liked to have fought Bruce Lee?
Anderson Silva: “No. I would like to have known him and to have had lessons with him. But to risk a fight with Bruce Lee? No.”
You have a calm voice, very zen-like. Does anything get you riled?
Anderson Silva: “Man, it’s hard to get me mad. (Laughs) And I have already had people make ??fun of my voice. What gets me out of the grave? Inequality, cowardice – and I’m not talking about the Octagon, no. I think all we Brazilians are outraged by so many people needing help, education, health. There is nothing that justifies the violence that we see out there. I have five children and I’m worried. Heck, every day I wake up and try to be better than the day before, I try to be an example for them. Then we turn on the television and sees only bad things, politically speaking. Things are changing, yes, but still a lot needs to change. That makes me sad, it takes me mad.”