When you reach the pinnacle of the sport like Anderson Silva has, your outlook naturally changes.
After breaking the record for the most consecutive wins in the UFC (currently standing at 12), and most consecutive title defenses (currently 7), Silva no longer wants to just win or to hold the belt, he wants to set an example.
“I’m always motivated to improve and be a better fighter,” Silva says in his pre-fight interview for UFC 126. “I believe people put a big focus on things like having the belt. I don’t believe that having the belt really determines the type of fighter and type of person that you are. I try to set an example for the young fighters that are coming up and leave a legacy of what I’ve been able to do in this sport.”
Belfort, a fellow Brazilian, a dangerous striker and former UFC champion himself, appears to be a formidable opponent for Silva to overcome, but if he’s at all concerned about facing him he shows no sign of it outwardly.
“I’m not concerned with who my next opponent is, he’s a dangerous opponent just like the rest. Whoever they put in front of me, I’m here to fight.”
Instead Silva, now approaching 36 years of age, once again refers back to the idea of leaving a legacy behind.
“It’s every athlete’s dream to end his career as a champion, just like it’s mine. However, in this sport, it’s very difficult. After the Chael fight people think I’m human again and that anything can happen. I could be knocked out, I could be submitted. For me, every time I go out there, it’s about more than just winning the fight, it’s about sending a positive message and leaving a message behind of what I was able to do in there.”
There’s no doubt that a win over a worthy opponent like Belfort can only help strengthen the message that Silva is one of, if not the very best fighter of his generation.
Watch his full interview below.