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UFC rivals Silva, Sonnen not backing down

While Ultimate Fighting Championship star Anderson Silva reverted to his familiar style of staying judicious with his words at Tuesday’s news conference inside Lagasse’s Stadium at Palazzo, his attempt at intimidating Chael Sonnen during the staredown afterward indicated his anger has dissipated little.

The normally mild-mannered middleweight champion erupted with violent words and threats directed at the challenger during a conference call last week promoting Saturday night’s UFC 148 main event at the MGM Grand Garden.

Silva was more subdued Tuesday afternoon, often resorting to one-word answers and sly smiles.

He did try to walk through Sonnen when the two faced off for photographs, however, and leaned forward either to whisper in Sonnen’s ear or kiss him on the cheek, though it was difficult to discern for certain. The situation created a few tense moments as UFC president Dana White and security officials stepped in several times to ensure order was maintained.

Sonnen wouldn’t divulge what went on between the two on stage, calling it a "private moment." It’s about the only thing Sonnen has refused to talk about in regard to Silva in the two years since dominating the champion for nearly 23 minutes only to lose by triangle choke in the closing minutes of their first meeting.

Sonnen, who mixes insults about Silva and his manager, the nation of Brazil and anyone else he can think of with well-rehearsed, pro-wrestling style promos, was in fine form Tuesday afternoon.

"I offer absolutely zero apologies. People who are scared to go too far never go far enough in life. I don’t care," Sonnen said. "I’m like Jon Jones. I sound like Sean Combs, and I’ve got trombone-size stones like John Holmes."

During a conversation with a smaller group of reporters after the news conference that was packed with fans and a massive contingent of Brazilian media, Sonnen said Silva’s eruption last week was the first time the champion has shown his true self.

"Good for him. Can you imagine being phony forever? Eventually, you’ve got to come out sometimes and let the veil down and just be yourself," Sonnen said. "The true Anderson Silva came through, and why shouldn’t it? We’re going to fight.

"The fact is I’ve been picking a fight for two years, and it looks like I found what I’m looking for."

Silva didn’t completely bite his tongue for the duration of the nearly 40-minute news conference. He reiterated his position that because Sonnen has been so disrespectful, secured a Theraputic Use Exemption for testosterone and pleaded guilty to a money laundering charge, he doesn’t deserve a second shot at the belt.

Still, he says he is in Las Vegas to do a job.

"Playtime is over. He can say whatever he wants. I said it last week, and I’ll say it again. It’s over. Saturday a lot of things are going to change. It’s going to be much different after Saturday," the champion said through an interpreter. "I have no words to really explain it other than the game is over and you will see on Saturday night what I’m talking about. All I can say is, ‘He’s screwed.’ "

In answer to a fan question, he predicted the fight would be over in the first round.

Sonnen offered up his game plan for the fight, laying out an almost identical scenario to the 2010 meeting, minus the conclusion.

"It’s going to be a hard fight," he said. "I’ll tell you right now I’m going out there and wait for him to throw a kick like he always does, and I’m going to put my forehead into his chest and drive him back into the cage and onto his prissy ass and run this (fist) into his head for 25 minutes or until he gives up. That’s my prediction."

The fight, expected to be the biggest of the year for the UFC, headlines a pay-per-view card that airs live at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.

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