Anderson Silva feels “so blessed to put on a show for everyone” at the inaugural Global Titans Fight Series on the Burj Al Arab helipad this weekend, while stressing he still respects the UFC despite recent comments apparently criticising the promotion.
The former UFC middleweight champion, who has crossed to boxing since leaving the company in 2020, takes part in Saturday night’s “The Showcase in the Skies of Dubai”, the first in a new combat-sports series by Global Titans.
Appearing on the same bill as boxing great Floyd Mayweather, Silva faces UAE Warriors lightweight champion Bruno Machado in an exhibition boxing match. The fight night, which features four bouts, is billed as the world’s first NFT (non-fungible token) pay-per-view sports event.
“For me, it’s so amazing,” Silva told The National. “Because I work hard my entire life for my sport, for combat sports, and this is the new opportunity. Everything I do inside my sport is for inspiring others; it’s not just another fight, but inspiring people to do something.
“Anybody can do anything in their life if you believe in yourself, if you put into your heart into something clean and true.
“And that’s why I’m here, one more time in Dubai. I have a lot of friends here, I feel Dubai is my second home and I’m so happy to be here – especially to fight on this amazing card on this amazing space, on top of the world. I’m so excited, so happy and so blessed.”
Silva, 47, knows Machado well having trained with his fellow Brazilian back in their homeland a decade ago. Machado, who captured the UAE Warriors lightweight title two years ago, moved to the UAE in 2013 and is based in Abu Dhabi.
“Bruno is an amazing fighter,” Silva said. “He is a specialist in MMA, he has a good background in wrestling, a good background in jiu-jitsu. This is an exhibition fight, but it’s a hard fight.
“Because fighters fight. It’s combat sports. And I truly believe Bruno and me will go do a big show for every single person here.
Machado trains for Silva fight
“I know Bruno for many, many years. He’s a great man, a great father. And he lives here for a lot of years, working hard every day. I feel me and Bruno can put on the best show for everyone here.”
This month, Silva aired grievances regarding what he perceived to be ill-treatment from the UFC towards the end of his career. The celebrated mixed martial artist, who still holds numerous records in the promotion including longest title reign – 2,457 days – last fought in the UFC in October 2020, when he suffered a TKO loss to Uriah Hall. Back then, UFC president Dana White said Silva “should never fight again”.
However, on Sunday, following UFC 274, White told reporters he was shocked by Silva's recent comments.
On Wednesday, Silva said: “MMA is an amazing sport. People sometimes ask me why I don’t like MMA or why I talk bad about the UFC. It’s not about talking bad about the UFC.
“I respect [it], I spent a long time there. I have history. And I pray for every single fighter because I know how hard it is.”
Asked about any issue with White, Silva said: “It’s not a surprise when you see the best talking, when you see the interviews. It’s not a surprise when you check my last fight in UFC and check what Dana say about me. I feel disrespect. I don’t have a problem with Dana White — I respect him.
“And I understand the game. It’s all about numbers. But I’m different. I put my heart into the company and never put in the heart about numbers. Because I come from martial arts and respect and showing how much you respect every single person.
“It’s a business, the fighters are only numbers. I don’t say anything bad about the UFC. I don’t say anything bad about Dana White. It’s just the truth.
“Just look, that’s the truth: when two fighters say something bad about your company, it’s OK. But when you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, especially legends, there’s something wrong with you and your company.
“But I’m not there any more. That’s in my past. I put my heart for the company. But now it’s a different level from my life.
“I pray for my friends who fight there and respect every single person. But it’s done, and good luck for everybody there, good luck for the company too. And I live my life now.”
Since leaving the UFC, Silva has turned to boxing. Last year, he defeated former WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr before then knocking out one-time UFC light-heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz.
On whether he had closed the door on MMA, Silva said: “It’s a different time now. Boxing is a different and a great opportunity to show everyone how much I can fight in different combat sports.
“My next challenge, my next step is to fight in a jiu-jitsu tournament. I just start to work on that in my mind, with my team, for when. I’m so excited.”