Wanderlei Silva is rooting for Vitor Belfort to defeat Chris Weidman in the UFC 173 pay-per-view (PPV) main event, which takes place over Memorial Day Weekend (May 24, 2014) inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
But not because they're suddenly the best of friends.
No, "The Axe Murderer" simply wants to be the first guy to challenge "The Phenom" for the 185-pound strap -- and keep it in Brazil -- assuming he's able to dispose of Chael Sonnen after the two rivals finish their duties on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF): "Brazil 3."
But Wandy tells Globo's Combate that Belfort is going to first have to learn how to take a punch, if he plans on leaving "Sin City" with the gold.
"I think in the first two rounds, Vitor Belfort is the favorite. More on the first until half the second. If Weidman can hold Vitor's initial rush and impose his own rhythm by taking him down, I think he takes. But I think Belfort is a dangerous guy and has every chance of winning. I want him to win, and I want to beat Sonnen, because I want to be the first challenger for his belt! But I want him to get off victorious, he is a guy who is showing good performances and has all the chances. If he trains properly, clenches his teeth and doesn't flinch, because he is a lion when hitting, but when he takes [a punch], we know what happens. He can not let this 'Belfort side' of his really emerge. The thing is to clench his teeth and even if he gets hit, awaken his lion heart. He is representing Brazil, pull that strain from the inside and try to the end. That's what we want."
Belfort and Silva have a rivalry that dates all the way back to UFC 17.5, when "The Axe Murderer" was creamed by "The Phenom" in just 44 seconds. Wandy was in line for a rematch over a decade later at UFC 147; however, Belfort was forced to withdraw due to a hand injury.
Silva would go on to lose a unanimous decision to Rich Franklin.
But none of that would make any difference if they somehow ended up staring across from each other in a 185-pound title fight at the promotion's annual year-end extravaganza, but that sounds more like fantasy at this stage than reality.