01-04-2010, 08:17 PM
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| | Pre-fight injury rumors prove partially true; Thiago Silva's back ailing prior to UFC
Pre-fight injury rumors prove partially true; Thiago Silva's back ailing prior to UFC 108 | MMAjunkie.com
Prior to his UFC 108 main-event contest with Rashad Evans (14-1-1 MMA, 9-1-1 UFC), Brazilian slugger Thiago Silva (14-2 MMA, 5-2 UFC) was rumored to be suffering from a serious ankle injury. |
Silva's camp adamantly denied those rumors, but today his manager, Alex Davis, admitted to MMAjunkie.com Radio (MMAjunkie.com Radio | MMAjunkie.com) that a real back injury had been the factual basis for the inaccurate rumors.
"The rumor came out that it was an ankle injury," Davis said. "Actually, it was not an ankle injury; it was a back injury.
"What happened is that Thiago had a choice. His back was hurt, and he could not wrestle. He could not do takedown defense. He could not practice the exact thing that he needed most against Rashad. But we know the problems with the UFC. We could see everything that was happening, and we made the decision to take this fight and stay with it regardless of the fact that he wasn't able to come in in top shape for that kind of fight."
Davis denied previous reports that the UFC did anything to "sweeten the deal" for Silva in order to encourage him to remain on the injury plagued event. Instead, once the reports began to surface, the American Top Team co-founder elected to keep his client's exact condition under wraps.
"American Top Team is a big team," Davis said. "You've got all these people around there, and all of a sudden you see Thiago Silva not taking part in normal practice. It gets out. I think that's pretty normal.
"(But) I'm not going to go and give (Evans' coach) Greg Jackson the advantage of knowing that my guy isn't in top shape. I'm not going to leave him comfortable."
Davis also insisted he was not making any excuses for Silva's loss and admitted Evans would likely have been able to execute his strategy even with his opponent at 100 percent.
"Personally, due to the difference in the level of Rashad's wrestling, I don't think that in the takedown department, [being at 100 percent] would have made that much of a difference," Davis said. "People don't care, really, but the truth is the truth. This kid came in and he wasn't in top shape because of an injury, and he still took a very tough fight. He went at it, and he survived for those two rounds."
Davis did say he was proud of the way Silva fought through the pain and believes Evans and his camp put together a perfect gameplan for the contest.
"Personally, I thought that, given the circumstances, Thiago did very, very well," Davis said. "Greg Jackson came up with an excellent strategy (for Evans).
"He knew that the department where Rashad would be able to dominate Thiago was with the takedowns. And the reason that Rashad would not stay down there and ground and pound is because Thiago has very good sweeps. If Thiago did manage to sweep and put Rashad on his back, Rashad would have been in trouble because that's probably Thiago's best position."
Evans proved capable of taking Silva down nearly at will. Silva was taken down multiple times in the opening 10 minutes, though the Brazilian did work back to his feet each time and never really absorbed any real damage. But after dropping the first two rounds to Evans, Silva changed his strategy for the third.
Mocking and taunting Evans until he successfully baited him into a striking contest, Silva rocked his opponent in the final frame but appeared hesitant to finish.
Davis said while fatigue probably played a factor, he believed Silva may also have been trying to follow orders.
"The whole time, we were telling him to be patient with Rashad – not try to go in on Rashad and attack Rashad, which would have given Rashad the takedown opportunities," Davis said. "What happened there is the moment that he shouldn't have been cautious, he listened to us, and he stayed cautious. He was worried that he would go in for the knockout too hungrily and got countered with that overhand of Rashad's. That was what went through Thiago's head at that moment.
"I think that Thiago comes off OK after a tough fight, and even in losing, he looked pretty good. I think Thiago is still developing a lot as a fighter. He used to be a very instinctive fighter. Now he's starting to be more of a conscious fighter.
Davis also said it's important to remember that seeing an opening from outside the cage is much easier than capitalizing on it inside.
"For us that were outside the fight, we knew that if [Silva] went in there for the kill, he probably would have gotten it," Davis said. "But it's not easy when you're inside there."
While Evans looks to face rival Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in his next outing, Silva's future is currently unclear. But before the Brazilian can line up another bout, Davis said it will be important for him to nurse himself back to proper health.
"The problem with a back injury is that if you don't take care of it, it's going to turn chronic," Davis said. "It can really hamper you, so [Silva] needs to stop and take care of it now."
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