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Bigfoot Silva confident and calculated before UFC 160 rematch

Silva on approach against Cain Velasquez: “First thing: No kicks”

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Antonio Silva pumps a fist after making weight during weigh ins for UFC 156 Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva wakes up every morning, and without fail, is reminded of the worst loss of his career.

In the co-main event of last year’s annual Memorial Day weekend card in Las Vegas, Cain Velasquez mauled Silva in one of the bloodiest and most lopsided fights in recent memory.

“Every day, I look in the mirror,” Silva said. “I see the big cut on my face.”

It’s a cut right above his forehead, a cut that nearly forced doctors to stop his UFC debut before the referee did 3 minutes, 36 seconds into the first round. The gash required 15 stitches and kept him out of training for more than a month.

So yeah, even if it wasn’t for the scar, Bigfoot wasn’t forgetting about UFC 146 any time soon.

“The first fight with Cain was very important to me because I learned a lot from this fight,” Silva said. “I was very nervous for my first fight in the UFC.”

Silva (18-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) will replace anxiousness with anger when he meets Velasquez (11-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC) almost exactly a year after the first fight, 364 days, in the same venue. Riding two straight upset victories, Silva will challenge Velasquez for the UFC heavyweight title in the main event of UFC 160 on May 25 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Revenge is something he’ll admittedly think about.

“Now is very, very different,” Silva said. “I have a good camp. I’m going to do the same strategy and this fight should be very different.”

Since relocating to American Top Team in Coconut Creek, Fla., Silva’s results speak for themselves. He knocked out undefeated Travis Browne in the first round at UFC on FX 5 and followed with the upset of the year thus far, finishing Alistair Overeem with a barrage of uppercuts at last month’s UFC 156.

He’s beefing up his training more this time around, bringing in old friend and former heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos for a few sessions.

“We have talked about this a little bit,” dos Santos said, “and I really believe (Silva) will be the next champion.”

Dos Santos, who fights Mark Hunt in the night’s co-main event, should know Velasquez as intimately as anyone in the UFC. He knocked out Velasquez in 64 seconds to earn the title, but took a 25-minute beating in the rematch.

Silva, who has known dos Santos for years since they started their careers around the same time under the tutelage of the Nogueira brothers, is open to all of his buddy’s advice.

“You can’t stay waiting too much for Cain Velasquez,” dos Santos said. “You have to go there and beat him. You have to go there and put some pressure on him.”

Silva said only one change to his game plan was in store for the second shot at Velasquez: He wouldn’t throw any kicks. Velasquez, a former college wrestler at Arizona State, caught a kick in the opening seconds at UFC 146, which led to the ground-and-pound that sliced Silva’s face open.

Silva wishes he could erase it all from his memory. Instead, he sports an unsolicited souvenir from the fight every day.

“I will use the same strategy I trained for,” Silva said. “The problem was my mind, my adrenaline. I’m going to do the same thing. I have no excuse but to win this fight.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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  1. The UFC continues to recycle over-the-hill fighters. Some things never change.