April 9, 2010
Weighty issue in UFC tilt
By JOSE RODRIGUEZ, QMI Agency
For underdogs, it's the ultimate motivator.
The heavily-favoured champ is seemingly looking past you to his own future plans.
And while neither middleweight (185 lbs.) champ Anderson 'Spider' Silva or lightweight (155 lbs.) belt holder B.J. Penn admit to looking beyond Saturday's title tilts, their pre-fight verbiage will serve as pure motivational gold for the challengers.
In pre-fight interviews, both seem quite content to talk about moving up weight classes following Saturday's UFC 112 card in Abu Dhabi.
Silva -- who has had successful one-off fights at light heavyweight (205 lbs.) -- is now eyeing up the heavyweight division (265 lbs.), while Penn says he is looking to move back up to welterweight (170 lbs.).
Through an interpreter, Silva said he has been preparing to take on bigger men following his fight with jiu-jitsu ace Demian Maia.
"He says that heavyweight is definitely something that he has in mind," the interpreter said.
"It's something he has in his plans. And he has been adapting his training and ever-changing to be able to take on new challenges."
Silva is riding an 11-fight win streak and -- outside of Maia and Vitor Belfort -- there are few legitimate contenders left for him at middleweight.
Penn -- who went back up to the 170-pound class for an unsuccessful title fight with champ Georges St. Pierre -- is also clear he'd like to make a jump following his fight with Frankie Edgar.
"I don't think that I'm in the position that I've cleaned out my weight class the way Anderson has cleaned out his weight class," says Penn who recently destroyed Diego 'Nightmare' Sanchez.
"I try to just bet true to myself and what my own personal goals are. And if I feel that I want to try to take a fight at 170 pounds again."
Penn says the motivation for new challenges shouldn't be misinterpreted as cockiness or a dismissal Saturday night's fight with Edgar.
"I think that's what martial arts is about. I think that's definitely what jiu-jitsu is about," says Penn.
"Martial arts is about the small man being able to defeat the bigger man and that's why we have this love and fascination for martial arts. I know that the UFC is a sport now and it's taken a lot more seriously. That's why we have all of these rounds and the rules.
"But you know, there's something deep inside of me that is a martial artist."
Maia and Edgar are not expected to dethrone the champs and both Silva and Penn are very complimentary about the challengers.
But with neither bookies nor fans giving Maia or Edgar a fighting chance, both fighters will no doubt feed off the champions' desires to look past them.
UFC 112 is the fight club's first venture to the Middle East and its first outdoor event.
It is available in Canada on pay-per-view.