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Silva packs on pounds for Saturday UFC match

Silva vs. Irvin Preview

Saturday night at The Pearl at The Palms Casino Resort, UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva jumps up a weight class to fight James Irvin. Here is a preview of the fight.

So what does the world’s best pound-for-pound MMA fighter eat when he needs to bulk up to fight in a heavier weight class?

McDonald’s of course.

“Man, he can eat like three Big Macs then go for a walk at the mall and he will have lost five pounds,” said a laughing Ed Soares, the manager and translator for Ultimate Fighting Championship star Anderson Silva.

“His metabolism is just ridiculous.”

But packing on the pounds hasn’t been a problem for the reigning Middleweight Champion.

In fact, the lanky 6-foot-2 Silva (22-4) — whose normal weight is between 220-230 pounds — easily moved up to the Light Heavyweight division (OK, so Soares did admit to giving “The Spider” a few protein shakes) where he will take on challenger James Irvin (14-4-1) Saturday night in a nationally televised card from The Pearl at The Palms.

“I don’t feel any pressure I’m the one moving up in weight,” said Silva, through Soares’ translation. “He’s the one who’s feels he’s defending the 205-pound category. He’s the one who has all the pressure.”

Irvin — who is also 6-foot-2, and probably 15 to 20 pounds heavier than Silva come fight night — sees things differently.

“Definitely the pressure is on him,” the Huntington Beach, Calif., native said. “He has everything to lose. His belt, his pound-for-pound status.

“This is a win-win fight for me. As long as I don’t go in there and lay down, which I’m not gonna let happen. Or get caught in the first minute, then this is a win-win fight for me.”

While few prognosticators are giving the 29-year-old Irvin much of a chance (the Palms sports book has Silva listed as a 6 ½-1 favorite), he said he thinks that Silva might be a bit sluggish.

“We might see the best Anderson Silva ever at 205,” Irvin said. “With him not cutting any weight, he might be faster and stronger.

“But I know how I feel when I’m 205 and when I’m 225. I’m a little slower and my conditioning is not nearly as good as when I’m closer to my fighting weight. I’m banking on him being a little slower and not being in the fighting shape we’re used to seeing him in.”

But that may be wishful thinking.

Silva is 6-0 since joining UFC and has destroyed opponents — including some of the sport’s top competitors like former PRIDE champion Dan Henderson.

“This is going to be an exciting fight,” Silva said. “James Irvin fights in a heavier weight category and I think people really want to see how someone like myself will do moving up in weight and facing a bigger and supposedly stronger opponent.”

Fight fans probably wouldn’t have gotten this opportunity (or at least not on cable TV) had UFC president Dana White not been so aggressive in countering a pay-per-view card put on by first-time fight organization Affliction set for Saturday night in Anaheim, Calif.

White text-messaged Silva while he was on vacation in Hawaii on Father’s Day. The Brazilian quickly agreed to not only the short-notice fight, but also moving up a weight class.

“It was a personal favor to Dana White to take this fight at this weight,” Silva said. “Being a part of the UFC team and part of the family, I felt it was my duty to step up and represent and do what they needed me to do.”

Irvin says he’s honored by the opportunity to go against a guy “who everyone agrees is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.”

“I’m no one to even call this guy out or to get the chance to fight him,” Irvin said. “But they gave me the opportunity and I’m going to make the most of it.

“All I can promise on July 19 is that I brought the best James Irvin to fight Anderson Silva. For me that’s showing him respect. I’ve trained hard, I’m going to give him a run for his money.”

Irvin has at least a puncher’s chance considering he’s ended two fights in the first 10 seconds of a round — including his last bout when he tied a UFC record with an eight-second knockout of Houston Alexander in the first stanza.

“I’ve been pretty fortunate to catch people at the beginning of rounds. But he’s a really smart fighter,” Irvin said.

“They call him a spider for a reason. He kind of sets people up and dangles webs to catch them later on. He’s defiantly not gong to fall for any tricks like that.”

Instead Irvin hopes to utilize his own size and force Silva into close quarters combat.

“I’m bigger and stronger than him. That’s the only advantage I have against this guy, so I’m going to use the most of it,” he said. “I want to be real close and personal with him. I hope were two feet away from each other the whole fight just trading punches. If I have to take two to give one, then I plan on eating some (punches).”

So too does Silva, probably again at McDonald’s — the place he once worked before he was a world-famous fighter.

“He’s definitely hungry for this one,” said a smiling Soares.

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