Photos courtesy of Getty/UFC
By Blake Garris
On Saturday, July 7, Anderson Silva, the longest running Middleweight champion in UFC history, defends the title against one of his toughest opponents and harshest critics, Chael Sonnen, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
In the midst of a firestorm of publicity and training, Silva took the time to talk with Marvel.com. We had the opportunity to ask him about his immense comic book collection, how he got his nickname “Spider,” and which Marvel super hero he would like on his dance card.
Marvel.com: To begin, we hear you’re a big Spider-Man fan. How were you first introduced to the character?
Anderson Silva: I was a kid in Brazil and watched the “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” cartoon. I told my mother, “I am going to be Spider-Man when I grow up.” I started getting the comics before I could even read as a small kid. I’ve now got a very big comic book collection I’ve been collecting since about
Marvel.com: The story of how you got your nickname is very similar to how Spider-Man got his. Can you tell us about it?
Anderson Silva: Yes, it was almost exactly how Spider-Man got the name in the first movie they did 10 years ago. Early in my mixed martial arts career, I was fighting on a small card in Brazil. I went to the arena wearing a Spider-Man shirt, the black one when he had the symbiote. Wearing a Spider-Man shirt makes me feel strong and makes me relaxed. I collect Thor, Hulk and other comics but Spider-Man has always been my favorite since I was a kid because of his attitude. He would be fighting these powerful people, and took it seriously, but also laughed and joked at the same time. That’s how I am. I take my sport seriously and I train very hard, but if you can’t joke and laugh with your friends and teammates there’s no point doing this.
So I was wearing a Spider-Man [t-shirt] in the dressing room. [Before] the show the ring announcer asked me what my nickname was before I went out to fight. I said I didn’t have one so when I was walking out to fight, the MC announced me as “Brazil’s Spider-Man…Anderson Silva.” And I’ve been Anderson “The Spider” Silva ever since. I’m proud to represent a character [that] stands for the things Spider-Man stands for.
Marvel.com: We also hear you like Miles Morales, the new
Anderson Silva: I read about the death of Peter Parker in the Ultimate comics, and how he was going to be replaced by a black teenager. I was very interested to see how that would happen. I’ve not had the chance to read the story for myself yet, but I’ve been told it was a great story.
I was very interested to see how this new Spider-Man would look and what sort of character he is. But I like him. He takes the responsibility of being a hero, of having these powers, just as seriously as Peter Parker. He also has serious problems in his own life, and could just stop being a hero and helping people to focus on helping himself. But he doesn’t, even though it would be the easy thing to do. That’s why he is worthy of being Spider-Man.
Having a super-hero—a Spider-Man—from a different background is great. He’s a different Spider-Man, but he is Spidey. He looks a little like I did when I was 13, 14 years old too. It is great, really great to have a black kid as Spider-Man. It would have been so cool as a kid to see a Spider-Man look like me. I think it is important to have inspirations and this is so great to so many kids around the world. I think this is really great.
Marvel.com: We’re currently in the midst of Spider-Man’s 50th Anniversary. Can you tell us your favorite memory of him?
Anderson Silva: He’s such an inspiring character. He represents the real hero: The man who has every reason not to help [and] not to be a hero, but does. I never understood Batman; he had no problems because he was rich, had a big house and had a big office, but Spider-Man couldn’t even pay rent but he went out to be a hero. Every great Spider-Man story has that [theme]: “With great power comes great responsibility”.
|Anderson Silva in action|
Marvel.com: You have a big fight coming up on July 7. What will fans have in store when they tune in?
Anderson Silva: I’m going to defend my UFC World Middleweight title on Saturday. I’ve trained very hard and I am ready for one of the biggest fights of my life. This is only the second time in my career I have been so angry with an opponent [Chael Sonnen]. He is completely disrespectful. He has disrespected me, my trainers, my country and the sport with his mouth. This is only the second time I have ever wanted to beat someone up and not just win the fight. I am going to break his teeth, break his face. The joke is over for him. After Saturday, no more talking.
Marvel.com: Word has it that you and your opponent Chael Sonnen are polar opposites outside of the ring. What’s the history like between the two of you?
Anderson Silva: I fought him in 2010. Before the fight he started talking so much about me, about my country, even my family. He is not a martial artist. A martial artist is respectful and fights with honor, but he does not. He talks and talks so much; so disrespectful. He wasn’t fighting my teammates or my friends, but he also spoke so many bad things about them. We were already going to fight, but he kept talking and talking. I beat him with two minutes to go in the last round. I thought that would shut him up but for the last two years he’s been talking again, disrespecting my trainers, my manager, my family, and my country. After July 7 when I beat him again I won’t have to listen to him again.
Marvel.com: How does this fight compare to your previous fights?
Anderson Silva: I’ve never been so motivated for a fight. That is the difference. That is it.
Marvel.com: What Marvel villain would you compare Sonnen to?
Anderson Silva: Ha! I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to say.
Marvel.com: Besides Spider-Man obviously, which Marvel characters would you want to have your back in a fight and why?
Anderson Silva: I also collect The Hulk and Thor. They have very different ways of fighting [than] I do. I am about technique and strategy, but you’d be confident of winning any fight if Hulk and Thor were with you. I’d also like Captain America with me, for leadership and to put the battle plan together. I always fight to a plan that my trainers put together with me. We train as a team and we win as a team, like the Avengers.
Marvel.com: Word on the street says that you’re also a good dancer. What Marvel characters would you like on your dance team?
Anderson Silva: [Laughs] Gwen Stacy or The Black Cat?
UFC 148: Silva vs. Sonnen airs live on Pay-Per-View this Saturday at 7pm Pacific, 10pm Eastern. You can also follow Silva on Twitter @SpiderAnderson.