Two of the biggest punchers in the heavyweight division collide at UFC Fight Night 51 this Saturday, when former UFC heavyweight title challenger Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva returns to action after a “Fight of The Year” worthy battle against Mark Hunt. Silva’s first-ever fight in his native Brazil will not come easy, as he contends with a familiar foe in former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski,  who still remains as one of the most accomplished strikers in the UFC’s talented heavyweight division.

This headliner serves as a rematch of a May 2010 bout at Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery in which Silva took a unanimous decision win. Since returning to the UFC, Arlovski has scored a win over Brendan Schaub at UFC 174. Though Arlovski got the win, he felt dissatisfied with how he performed in that bout.

“I didn’t fight my best and I am not happy with my performance or the fight [against Schaub at UFC 174],” Arlovski said in a press release. “I was nervous, too anxious to impress after not fighting in the UFC for so long. Now, I want to remind everyone what I am about (vs Bigfoot) and I will have the chance to do that against (Bigfoot) because he comes to fight.”

All three rounds of action showcased all that both men had to give in that classic Strikeforce bout. Both men represent much different fighters from what they were in Strikeforce, though, and Arlovski has promised that the UFC will not regret putting Arlovski in a main event against an always-game heavyweight like Silva. In fact, he guarantees that they will enjoy what happens in this rematch.

“I will perform much better this Saturday. It will be an attack, attack, attack fight from both of us. I have trained very hard, worked on many aspects of my game, and I promise my fans and everyone who watches this will be a great fight. The UFC has trusted me by putting me in the main event, and I will (reward that trust). The fans won’t be disappointed, I promise.”

Silva may be excited to fight a familiar foe like Arlovski, but his excitement for the rematch comes from the fact of being able to do what only a handful of Brazil’s top mixed martial artists have gotten to do. Sure, it’s great for many to fight at home whenever possible, but when athletes get a fight in their hometown as part of the world’s premier MMA league, it motivates them that much more.

“I’m so excited, you must understand this is actually my first professional fight in Brazil. I fought once before in Brazil on a small show but that wasn’t as a professional, no-one know who I was, and this time I have the great support of the fans, my friends and family will be there – and it is actually my birthday this week (Sunday, September 14). So I am very excited for this fight, this is almost as big a fight for me as when I fight for the UFC heavyweight belt. Winning this fight means everything to me.”

Silva always competes like a man who wants a definitive win, and as such, he looks back on his Strikeforce win over Arlovski as a bittersweet win. On one hand, wins means a lot to any fighter, and every fight ultimately strives for the opportunity to prove that they sit among the best fighters in the world. On the other hand, everyone loves a finish because it puts an exclamation point on the win and essentially leaves no doubts about the outcome.

“Last time we fought he underestimated me and I won on points, but this time he knows I am (world class) and can beat him. He will have prepared for what I do, but I am a much better fighter than I was four years ago. I fought for the title, I have beaten fighters like Overeem, Fedor and the others. I’m a different guy now…He’s an awesome striker, he hits very hard, and I know he’s going to try to knock me out, but he tried that last time, and other people have tried that, too, and he won’t be able to get that done. It won’t work. He needs a plan “B” because he won’t knock me out.

“I don’t want to win on a decision this time, not fighting in Brazil in the main event. The people who come to see me will have something to celebrate with me. I will knock him out or submit him. One round or last round, I will finish him. I’m going to knock him out. I will be looking to knock him out with every strike, that I promise.”

Silva will look to accomplish this goal this Saturday against Arlovski at UFC Fight Night 51, live from Ginásio Nilson Nelson in Brasília, Brazil and airing exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.


About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.