Mark La Monica is the deputy sports editor for cross media at Newsday and writes about mixed martial
If Anderson Silva did what he did to Demian Maia last April - punch, kick and clown him for five rounds - because he felt "disrespected," then what the heck is he going to do to Chael Sonnen on Saturday at UFC 117?
You want disrespect, give a read to these quotes from Sonnen during a conference call with the media this past week:
Gold medal: "I could drag Anderson Silva outside the hotel and beat him up any time I want. I've made a commitment to wait til August 7th, and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure millions of people watch me do it."
Silver: "There's never been a guy with earrings that could out-tough me, and he's not going to be the first."
Bronze: "I don't wish him a bad life. I don't have - or hope anything bad happens to him. I'm going to take his belt on August 7 and Dana [White]'s going to fire him on August 8."
And those are just a few of the highlights. From one, 35-minute conference call! Sonnen (26-10-1), a Portland, Ore. native with political aspirations, has been slinging the mud and raking the muck for three months.
Silva thankfully didn't follow suit. He chose the high road, which speaks to his mental toughness and discipline. Silva (26-4), the UFC middleweight champion and the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, exudes confidence and belief in his ability. Why not? He's the best there is.
"As far as with all of the stuff that Chael has been saying, I actually think it's funny," Silva said. " . . . People are paying to watch people fight."
His decision not to engage Sonnen's constant barrage of verbal jabs then got the media on the call slightly incensed.
So what if he doesn't want to keep up the trash talking from his end. So what if he prefers to promote a fight based on talent and save the ticket-selling talk for the post-fight news conference. For what it's worth, Silva has been the one with a microphone and no bruises, cuts or scrapes 11 straight times.
The man doesn't lose. It's been four years and seven months since the other guy had his hand raised - and that was by disqualification for an illegal kick. His last real loss was Dec. 31, 2004, via a freak submission move by Ryo Chonan.
With that success comes perceived responsibility. We want Silva to dominate everyone he fights, to do something bigger and better than before. That's not realistic. He's too good to live up to his own prowess sometimes. That's where much of the negative reaction from fans is derived.
"A lot of times fans - they're the greatest thing ever - but sometimes, fans don't really understand what's happening inside the ring," Silva said.
Cue up the Russell Crowe "Gladiator" sound bite now: "Are you not entertained?"
Sonnen isn't. He honestly hates Silva. Proudly admits it.
Good for him. Maybe that rage will fuel him to perform well and outmaneuver the champ. Or maybe, just maybe, with each Sonnen boom unleashed to the MMA world, the quiet storm is building inside of Silva. And maybe, just maybe, that storm will commence inside the octagon in Oakland on Saturday night. If so, fans in the first few rows better bring an umbrella.