The GRACIEMAG.com crew is already on American soil to cover Saturday’s UFC 126 event in Las Vegas. Better yet, while still in the airport in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it happened upon one of the stars of the event, Anderson Silva, who will defend his middleweight crown against Vitor Belfort in the headlining fight at the Mandalay Bay Center.
Alongside a team comprised of Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Feijão, Ramon Lemos, Luiz Dórea, Paulo Bananada and Erick Silva, Anderson was in laid back spirits. Waiting for US Airways flight 801 to Charlotte, the “Spider” posed for photos with fans and made sure to cause commotion.
“I age ten years with every trip like this one that I take!” remarked Ramon Lemos.
Questioned prior to the flight, Anderson showed his dodge is in good form, having been called aside by airline employees.
“There’s no point complaining to me. These guys are all Dórea’s kids,” he joked.
The champion’s confidence heading into his fight with Belfort was apparent. However, dear reader, don’t confuse confidence with underestimating the opposition. During the week leading up to the trip, his sparring partners suffered. Many of them knocked out mercilessly.
“I know he’s going to come at me with everything he’s got and I’ll end up getting hit some,” commented Anderson.
“He’s even been talking about training in the airplane, but no way. Now he’s just going to break a mild sweat right before the fight,” Luiz Dórea cuts in.
In Charlotte, the port of entry to the USA, the lightness of spirit continued. Even after missing his connection to Vegas due to a delay coming from Brazil, Anderson remained friendly. More even than in his country of origin, the fighter was approached by a number of people. Police officers, airport employees, fans from all over the world… All of them want to meet the champ.
At the airport, concerned about making weight, he doesn’t mind eating apples while everyone else digs into the goodies at the snack bar. Then off to the VIP lounge to wait for the connection to Vegas at 6 pm local time.
And the trip continues!