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UFC light heavyweight Rodney Wallace is not concerned about Phil Davis' pedigree or hype. When his original opponent Stanislav Nedkov had to withdraw, with just two weeks to go until the fight, Wallace asked specifically for Davis. Although he is currently 0-2 with the organization, 9-2 overall, Wallace may be thinking about the future with the request.
If he loses again, he would likely be out of the UFC. Even if he were to win in a fight over Nedkov, anything short of an impressive victory, and he could have been on the outside looking in. What better way to make a statement to the UFC than to follow up his "Fight of the Night" winning loss to Jared Hamman than to take one of UFC's brightest prospects out at this weekend's "UFC 117: Silva vs Sonnen"?
The North Carolina native, although a heavy underdog in the bout, believes he has the skills and ability to make an impact with UFC fans, and turn around what has been a disappointing start to his UFC career. Nicknamed "Sho-Nuff The Master," Wallace sat down with MMA Spot's Andrew Yount to discuss his opponent, fighter marketability, and why Wallace wants to see Anderson Silva lose his title this weekend.
MMA Spot: How are you feeling coming into this fight? Any health issues during camp?
Wallace: I feel good coming into it. No health issues or anything. Everything is in order, everything is intact. Good as usual.
Spot: You have been saddled with a stiff challenge, drawing Phil Davis as a short notice replacement. Were you able to get much specific training in?
RW: A little bit. He’s a little bit less aggressive than the other guy would be, so I’ll have to be a little more patient. He won’t be coming forward as much as Nedkov would be. Just little tendencies that he has. He’s pretty much the same type of fighter, it’s just the little tendencies I have to watch for.
Spot: How did the conversation with the UFC go when they informed you of the change?
RW: [Joe Silva] basically just called my manager and said we need to make a change. They offered Stephan Bonnar a chance, but he declined. I told him was interested in fighting Phil Davis, so [Joe Silva] said he would call him. [Phil Davis] said he’d take the fight; he said, "Rock with it." So I said, “Cool.” And that was it.
Spot: Do you know what happened to get Nedkov pulled from the card?
RW: I think he couldn’t get his visa in time.
Spot: What's the story behind "Sho-Nuff The Master"?
RW: Because the name resonates with everybody. I mean it’s “The Last Dragon.” It’s a fight movie. We fight. So there is no big thing behind it. It’s not like naming myself “The War Machine” or “The Meat Locker” or whatever. It’s just because people resonate with it and its a little comedy relief.
Spot: What's your prediction for the main event?
RW: I want Chael Sonnen to win. Silva’s a bad ass fighter. There’s no doubt about that, everyone knows that. The reason I want Sonnen to win is that I want him to bring that fire back that Silva used to have. Because that’s what people want to see, that fire. I think Silva is so good he doesn’t even have to spark a flame, he can just go out there on gas alone. He doesn’t even need the fire. I think if someone were to beat him and bring that fire back, you know like when B.J. Penn lost—I wanted B.J. Penn to lose. Not because I’m not a fan of him. I just don’t want anyone to feel like they can just run through people.
Spot: So you’re not a fan of the reigning champion, Silva?
RW: No. I want all of the champions to lose one time. If they win five and lose one, it’s all good. People want to think they’re the best in the world. They can still be the best in the world if you lose one every now and again. It just makes you hungrier. Even if you’re a champion, you get tired of beating everybody easily. You want that fire back. You want that same thing you felt when you first started training.