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'Happy to be the black Bruce Lee'

By Yang Xinwei | China Daily | Updated: 2017-09-28 07:24

 'Happy to be the black Bruce Lee'

Main-event fighters Anderson 'The Spider' Silva (left) and Kelvin Gastelum pose in front of Kevin Chang, UFC's vice-president for Asia Pacific, at Monday's media conference for Fight Night in Shanghai, set for Nov 25 at Mercedes-Benz Arena. [Photo by Hugo Hu/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images]

Longtime UFC champ Silva still feels inspired by Chinese icon

Drawing inspiration from someone they look up to is often very helpful for those who aspire to be professional athletes.

For Octagon fighter Anderson 'The Spider' Silva, his inspiration is Chinese martial arts icon Bruce Lee, who died in Hong Kong in 1973.

"When I was very young, I told my brothers and my mom that I was Bruce Lee. I'm a black Bruce Lee," Silva said on Monday during a media conference for UFC Fight Night Shanghai.

"Lee, Jackie Chan and Donnie Yen, these guys are all my heroes, my Chinese heroes. I think Bruce Lee personifies the greatness of all martial arts, as a fighter and as a professional. When I am training and want to cheer myself up, I think about Bruce Lee. In my life, I'm happy to be the black Bruce Lee."

Could Lee have made the cut in UFC?

"Bruce was an amazing master of the martial arts. If he was around today, he would beat everybody," said the 42-year-old Silva, whose record UFC title streak ended in 2013 after 2,457 days, with 16 consecutive wins.

The Brazilian will face rising American middleweight contender Kelvin Gastelum at Mercedes-Benz Arena on Nov 25.

The media conference kicked off UFC's second promotional tour in as many months, introducing the headline stars before their upcoming clash in the Octagon. In addition to bringing in Silva and Gastelum, UFC announced the signing of two female fighters from Liaoning province - Wu 'Mulan' Yanan (8-1) and Yan Xiaonan (7-1-1).

Wu will face American Gina Mazany in a bantamweight matchup. Mazany (4-1), who appeared in Season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter, is mentored by former UFC women's bantamweight champ Miesha Tate and will be looking to upset Wu's ambitions for a home victory.

The 28-year-old Yan is a well-rounded MMA fighter who counts sanda, Muay Thai, wrestling and Brazilian jiu-jitsu as her specialties. She will square off with Kailin Curran (4-5) of the US.

Rising welterweight star Li Jingliang (13-4), fighting out of Beijing, announced that he and compatriot Wang Guan (18-1-1) of Northeast China will both participate in China's first live UFC event. Both are awaiting confirmation of their opponents.

"We first started around 10 years ago, when nobody knew what UFC or MMA was. To come from that point to where we are now, it's been a fantastic dream come true and it will continue to develop in this part of the world," said Kevin Chang, UFC vice-president of Asia Pacific.

"The response has been tremendous and we are honored to have such overwhelming support from our loyal fans since we announced our inaugural UFC event on the Chinese mainland. This is a historic moment for our company and set to be one of the most thrilling live events UFC has ever brought to Asia".

Gastelum said he's looking forward to his fight with Silva.

"Anderson Silva is one of the greatest of all time. But you have to recognize that his time as champion is over. He hasn't won a lot recently. And now I feel like it's my time," said the 25-year-old California native.

"He's got millions, he's got cars and houses. And I want the same things for me."

In conjunction with UFC Fight Night Shanghai, Sina Sports launched a nationwide fitness competition to discover China's first Octagon Girl. Interest was so strong that UFC has named not one but two women to represent China on the Fight Night: Wang Jingjing from Beijing and Pan Xiao from Suzhou.

yangxinwei@chinadaily.com.cn

 

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