As if Wanderlei didn't have enough troubles going into his bout against Rich Franklin this Saturday at UFC 99, former teammate Anderson Silva is training Franklin. Despite speculation that Wanderlei might be forced to retire if he loses to Franklin, it almost seems to me that he's looking past Franklin to Anderson Silva.
And what do you think of him training with Anderson Silva before his fight with you?
Yeah, because if he trains with Anderson, he won’t pass the second round with me. You’ll see.
I heard you offered to put $50,000 down on this fight in a bet with Anderson. That's pretty bold. Have you heard any word from him about whether he’ll take that bet?
No, no. You know, I believe in myself. I believe in the job I can do. And because of this I will put money down. But who will put down against me? He will not say yes, so you tell me who believes more.
Wanderlei talks more about his motivation to go after Anderson to MMA Weekly:
"Of course everyone want to fight the champion. I want to fight with him," said Wanderlei of the other Silva. The two have been part of an escalating war of words in recent weeks, Wanderlei especially critical of his former training partner's performance in recent bouts.
"Maybe now, after I pass Rich, it's possible I fight for the champion. I want to fight Anderson.
"Of course, I would have a lot of emotion (fighting him) cause I train with him a lot of times and I know his faults and he know my faults. I trained a lot after he leave. He train a lot. But I see him fight many, many times; maybe I know what I need to know to beat him."
For his part, Rich Franklin is pretty cooly logical about why he's training with Anderson Silva to prepare for this fight, from MMA Mania:
Derek Bolender (MMAmania.com): What was the experience of training with Anderson Silva like for you? Who approached who as far as setting that up? What was the motivation behind setting up that connection?
Rich Franklin: The big story here seems to be me training with Anderson for this fight. We have spoken several times about training together in the past, but schedules have been conflicting.
Anderson’s manager, Ed Soares, gave me a call inviting me to train in LA for this fight. They figured it would be helpful since Anderson and Wanderlei used to be teammates. I checked with my coaches Neal Rowe, Rob Radford and Matt Hume, and they all agreed it was a good idea.
I'm really going to be pulling for Wanderlei here, but I have to say the UFC isn't doing Franklin any favors with this matchup either. After his razor-thin loss to Dan Henderson, Franklin is further from contention than ever. Perhaps the UFC sees him as a kind of super Marcus Davis, a popular fighter who won't contend for a title but can be used to put on big fights in their European shows.