LOS ANGELES – You’re Anderson Silva. You’re in the twilight of your career, many would say even beyond it. You’re a former UFC middleweight champion and one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. A lot of people have you on their MMA Mount Rushmore.
So why, at 47, would you choose to fight a 25-year-old YouTuber and social media influencer who barely started creating a buzz in boxing?
“This is a good challenge,” Silva told MMA Junkie of his upcoming boxing match with Jake Paul.
Indeed, Silva and Paul will square off in the headliner of a Showtime pay-per-view event Oct. 29 at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz. Since leaving the UFC in late 2020, Silva has experienced some success inside the ring, with a stunning win over former boxing champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., which was followed up by a first-round knockout of fellow former UFC champ Tito Ortiz. Silva also looked good in an eight-round exhibition bout against Bruno Machado this past May.
Paul has made a name for himself in boxing thanks to former MMA champions Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley, both of whom he knocked out (he also beat Woodley by decision).
From Silva’s perspective, this is exciting stuff. For the past two years, he’s observed how Jake and his brother, Logan Paul, have made their marks in the combat sports world – mainly boxing but now also in WWE for Logan – and is impressed by it all.
“The people think both of these kids don’t have respect for doing something like I’m doing now,” Silva said. “But it’s very special. Why? Because both of these kids are working hard, and what happened to the people? When people don’t do something hard, something special, try to talk, try to question, try to say, ‘Oh, this is terrible, it’s fake.’ But the kids doing an amazing job. The kids working hard. I respect the kid (Jake). But fight is fight. Jake training hard for fight with me, I’m training hard for fight with Jake, and let’s go do it.”
There are people who genuinely believe that Silva will give Paul a test that Askren and Woodley couldn’t, because Silva is actually Paul’s size, not to mention perhaps the greatest striker in MMA history. Then there are the naysayers who fear that Silva, at his age, could end up brutally knocked out and face down on the canvas, just like Askren and Woodley.
That’s not something Silva concerns himself with.
“The people say that, because it’s the same. The people don’t like to work hard and don’t like to take the risk to do your best,” Silva said. “Lazy people do that. It’s talking a lot. But I’m not lazy.”
For some, it might be weird to think that after finishing his legendary UFC career, Silva would end up boxing a YouTuber 22 years younger than he is. And yet, here we are.
“I can’t imagine that, because nobody can imagine that,” Silva said. “But I’m working hard my entire life to do my best, improve my respect inside the martial arts and fight community. When you do something special, when you do something to respect and help the new generation, everything happens to you. I’m lucky, because I don’t see nobody the same age as me and fight at the same level I fight now. Especially when you come from the MMA world, and I’m so happy. When you do something good for the rest of the world, something good comes to you. That’s what I try to do every day.”