BURBANK — With the Ultimate Fighting Championship title he's held claim to for nearly seven full years of astounding supremacy displayed roughly 10 feet away, Anderson "The Spider" Silva took center stage on Monday afternoon at Morton's The Steakhouse in Burbank.
The latest in a parade of champions and high-profile UFC stars to stop by the Burbank steakhouse for a media lunch, Silva is seen by many to be in a class of his own.
Myriad UFC records accompany his tour de force of a career, a mystique of dominance seems to often engulf his opponents and, when it comes to fans and media, a polarizing aura surrounds the man regarded by most as the greatest mixed martial artist to have ever been.
All that adds up to make his most recent task at hand all the more appealing and, perhaps, puzzling. Despite the cavalcade of championship accomplishments and battered opponents left behind, Silva is being predicted to lose in his upcoming championship bout against challenge Chris Weidman by many of his fellow UFC fighters.
"I believe it's a bad matchup for Anderson Silva. Very bad, style-wise. Anderson's weaknesses are Weidman's strengths," UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre told the UFC. "Not only is Chris Weidman going to beat Anderson Silva, I believe he's going to finish Anderson. I believe it's not going to last too long, this fight. This fight will shock a lot of people."
The fight is set for Saturday night live on pay-per-view, as Silva defends his middleweight title against the undefeated Weidman at 162 from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
St. Pierre, a potential future opponent for Silva in a proposed UFC super fight, isn't the only champion that believes Weidman to be a bad matchup for the "Spider."
"I think Anderson Silva is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, but Weidman is the absolute worst possible matchup for him," UFC women's bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey, who trains in Glendale, told the UFC. "It'll definitely be interesting and I'm excited to see what happens on the night."
It's an opinion shared by many in the UFC's roster, but one Silva (33-4) said he cares little about.
"It's easy to say it," Silva, 38, said through a translator. "The point is, I can do things that other people think are very hard to do. Things that maybe to Georges St. Pierre are impossible, to me they seem very easy and I can do them. It's not about winning or losing anymore, it's what I want to do."
Silva, who did the first half of the media lunch speaking for himself in English (he did the second half through a translator following interviews for video and TV media outside the restaurant) seemed a bit perturbed by the notion of his fighting brethren picking against him, but in addition to saying it didn't matter, said it offered no motivation, either.
"No, I really don't worry about what anybody's saying," Silva said through a translator, "and I just want to go out there and do what I do best."
Silva, the No. 1-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the UFC rankings, brings into Saturday's clash a UFC-record 11 knockouts and, perhaps most importantly, an organizational standard of 16 straight victories and 10 title defenses. The middleweight title match will be the centerpiece of the second annual UFC Fight Week, which begins Wednesday and runs through Saturday night. In addition to the night of fights, fight week offers a huge UFC Fan Expo featuring a who's who of fighters, a concert, a pool party and the UFC Hall of Fame inductions of Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar. Subsequently, Silva has knocked both combatants out inside of a round.
Weidman has built a 9-0 record behind a phenomenal wrestling pedigree and all-around ground game, boasting outstanding submissions, strong ground and pound and a heavy top game.
Weidman has gone 5-0 inside the UFC and his career's biggest wins have come against the likes of Mark Munoz, Demian Maia and Uriah Hall. But Silva had little to offer in terms of Weidman on Monday.
"There's not much to be said," Silva offered through a translator. "He's a guy that fought up the rankings and he's having his shot at the belt, just like I had my shot at the belt, so there's really not much to be said. Now it's his turn."
Of course, as has been the case with Silva for years, the fight at hand isn't always the one in question — and likely not even the most intriguing.
Super fights against St. Pierre and UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones have been discussed, with Silva's thoughts on a possible Jones showdown coming out of the Burbank lunch as the biggest talking point across the internet.
"Jon Jones, in his class, is the best. If I fight Jon Jones, I don't think I'm going to win," Silva said. "Jon Jones is different. … I see Jon Jones fight, I see me from a long time ago."
But it is the impending bout with Weidman that is the task at hand and the one that has piqued the curiosity in the minds of fans and fighters alike, who believe the conclusion to the most celebrated run in UFC lore could come on Saturday.
"I'm very confident," Silva said through a translator before following with a statement that hardly exuded confidence. "It's in God's hands now. If I'm meant to be the champion, I'll walk out the champion. If it's not meant to be, Chris Weidman will be the champion."
For more information on tickets and the event, visit http://www.ufc.com.