Anderson Silva made a startling statement when speaking about his preparation for a boxing match with Jake Paul.
In an interview with MMA Weekly, the former UFC middleweight champion said he had been knocked out twice by training partners in his last sparring session for the fight, which takes place Saturday at Gila River Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
“I’m training hard for win — I’m training with the good boxers, high-level, and five guys come to help me,” Silva said. “And the last sparring with [my sparring partner], he is knocked me out two times, and when I finish my training, I talked to my coach and even said, ‘Coach, let me tell you something, why the guys knock me out two times?’ And the coach said, ‘You need to prepare for war, and you prepare for war.’”
Luiz Carlos Dorea, Silva’s longtime coach, told MMA Fighting the ex-champ’s last sparring session took place this past Friday but emphatically denied Silva’s statement, saying he wasn’t knocked out.
“What I can say is that didn’t happen,” he said. “Thank God we follow all the steps in training and Anderson did excellent sparring [sessions]. He’s 100 percent for the fight.”
A request for comment to Silva’s management was not immediately returned. The Arizona Department of Gaming, which oversees the state’s boxing commission, emailed a brief statement to MMA Fighting: “We are looking into the matter and have no further comment at this time.”
In Arizona, fighters over the age of 36 are required to receive approval from the commission in order to be licensed, submitting a stress test performed by a doctor, a clearance letter and a electrocardiogram (ECG) to demonstrate cardiovascular health. In general, fighters are also required to submit to concussion baseline testing. On the physical exam form all fighters are required to submit, fighters are asked the date of their most recent knockout, the longest duration of unconsciousness, and whether they’ve been knocked out in any other sport “or in any other way.”
Silva has fared well since his transition to boxing, earning three straight wins since returning to the squared circle. In his previous bout, he knocked out UFC Hall of Famer Tito Ortiz at 1:21 of Round 1.
In MMA, Silva’s last UFC appearance was marked by a TKO loss to Uriah Hall, who will join him on the undercard of Saturday’s event in a boxing match against Le’Veon Bell.
Silva’s admission is not the first time he’s spoken of knockouts prior to a fight. Prior to a UFC 183 showdown with Nick Diaz, Silva said he’d been knocked out by a training partner, later revealed to be UFC colleague Khalil Rountree. Rountree later confirmed the incident, saying, “we train hard to guarantee we’re going to win, and things happen during training. No big deal. I know a lot of people get knocked out in training and simply don’t say, but he’s an honest guy. It happened in training but not in the fight, so it doesn’t matter.” Silva’s then-manager, Ed Soares, said Silva had been knocked down, but not out, and Rountree’s comments had been “misinterpreted.”
Below is Silva’s full interview.