Antonio Silva doesn’t think much of Alistair Overeem’s heart.
In fact the Brazilian heavyweight thinks his Dutch counterpart, now based in Florida, doesn’t have the spirit to battle through adversity when the tide of a fight is going against him.
“They improved his technical abilities, gave him strength, gave him muscles, but no one can give you that thing which you are either born with or you are not - the fighter's spirit, the warrior heart. This is something no one teaches, no one can give you it,” he told SporTV in his native Brazil.
“I know that when he is put under pressure he will step back, he will break and he will think twice. When he is doing the hitting he is a lion but when you lay a hand on him, when things get riskier for him, he becomes a cat. This is the psychological angle we are working on.”
Silva snapped a two-fight losing streak with a win over Travis Browne at UFC on FX 5 last month, although the stoppage did owe something to Browne having torn his hamstring early on. Prior to that, Silva had been mauled by Cain Velasquez and knocked out by Daniel Cormier.
Overeem is coming off a nine-month suspension after failing a drugs test in March. He was able to explain the failed test - which flagged up elevated testosterone levels - by producing a prescription from a disreputable doctor in Texas for a bespoke medication which contained, allegedly unbeknownst to Overeem, testosterone as one of its elements.
Prior to his suspension, Overeem had stopped former heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar in the first round at UFC 141. The win was supposed to put him into a title shot at UFC 146 but the random testing caught him out and now he has to fight his way back to contention.
Overeem and Silva fight on the main card of UFC 156 on February 2.