No fights ‘til Brook­lyn

Holm, Silva head­line UFC’s New York return

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS -

An­der­son Silva strode onto the stage to­ward his op­po­nent, ex­tended his hand and went for the hearty shake. He flashed a wide smile and threw his arm around Derek Brun­son. Brun­son slapped Silva on the back, they laughed, hugged and mugged for the cam­eras.

Silva and Brun­son seemed more amped for a night on the town than a few rounds in the cage.

Where was the chair swing­ing? Where were the fur coats? The fight­ers storm­ing off stage?

UFC held a much more G-rated return to New York than its block­buster, out­landish de­but in Novem­ber when Conor McGre­gor styled and strut­ted his way through the city and led the com­pany to per­haps its most colos­sal event. Want trash talk? Try the next Brook­lyn san­i­ta­tion meet­ing.

“How can you not re­spect Holly (Holm),” chal­lenger Ger­maine de Ran­damie said. “She rocked the world when she fought Ronda (Rousey).”

And Brun­son, eight years younger than the dec­o­rated Silva, was pumped to face one of his fight he­roes.

“I can’t sit up here and act like I wasn’t a fan,” he said. “I grew up watch­ing the guy. I watched all his fights.”

Brun­son is on more of a scout­ing mis­sion th­ese days when he checks out Silva video, and when he looks up to Silva — way, way up — he’ll see the two on the video screen out­side the Bar­clays Cen­ter near the top of the UFC 208 card on Satur­day night.

Holm and de Ran­damie head­line the card that will crown UFC’s first 145-pound women’s cham­pion. Jacare Souza fights Tim Boetsch; Glover Teix­eira fights Jared Can­non­ier; and Jim Miller takes on Dustin Poirier in the other PPV bouts.

UFC is hold­ing its sec­ond pay-per-view card in New York since the end of the state’s nearly two-decade MMA ban. Head­lined by McGre­gor, UFC 205 was stacked and boasted three ti­tle fights.

The 41-year-old Silva is out of the mid­dleweight ti­tle pic­ture th­ese days, though his name helped sell a quick 11,000 tick­ets on the strength of his re­sume as one of UFC’s all-time great fight­ers. Silva won the mid­dleweight ti­tle in 2006 in his sec­ond UFC fight and went on slap a choke hold on the belt for nearly seven years. He had 10 straight ti­tle de­fences be­fore he lost to Chris Wei­d­man in 2013. Silva’s only win since 2012 was over­turned with a dop­ing sus­pen­sion and he was stopped on short no­tice by Daniel Cormier in his last bout at UFC 200 in July.

Silva, one of five Bra­zlians on the card, has no plan to quit any time soon.

“I think five more years,” he said, laugh­ing. “Maybe. Maybe. Oh my God. My wife and my kids (would) kill me. Maybe three or four more years.”

Silva wants his crack at McGre­gor in­side the oc­tagon be­fore it slips away the same way a po­ten­tial fight with Ge­orges St-Pierre seems to have had the win­dow closed.

Silva posed for pic­tures with Holm, another for­mer cham­pion who does not want her UFC ca­reer de­fined by one fight. Holm has dropped two straight bouts since she stunned the sports world and knocked out the un­de­feated Rousey in 2015. Holm lost the belt in her next fight to Meisha Tate and lost again to Valentina Shevchenko in the main event of a Fox card in July.

Holm, fight­ing in a di­vi­sion cre­ated as a sup­posed corona­tion for Cy­borg Justino, can join McGre­gor, Randy Cou­ture and B.J. Penn as the only twodi­vi­sion champs in UFC his­tory.

“I un­der­stand it’s a big deal,” Holm said. “My big­gest thing is, I don’t want to screw it up. I need to make this worth it.”

AP PHOTO

In this Oc­to­ber 2012 file photo, An­der­son Silva, right, throws a punch at Stephan Bon­nar dur­ing their light heavy­weight mixed mar­tial arts bout at UFC 153 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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