LAS VEGAS - A bored Quinton (Rampage) Jackson looked straight ahead as rival Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva took the podium Tuesday.
"Dana, put my name on the cheque for knockout of the night," Silva said to UFC president Dana White.
Jackson tilted his head and made a quizzical face, as if to say "Bring it on."
The 30-year-old Jackson is looking to turn a new page Saturday night at UFC 92 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. And Silva is Job 1.
Jackson (28-7) lost his title last time out to Forrest Griffin, suffering a subsequent meltdown that resulted in felony counts of evading a peace officer and evading a peace officer against traffic and misdemeanour hit-and-run and reckless driving. Jackson has pleaded not guilty - White says he was suffering from delirium as a result of fasting for four days - and a January court date is pending.
Jackson, who these days refused to discuss those events, has since severed ties with trainer Juanito Ibarra and spent six weeks prior to this fight in England, working out with Michael Bisping's camp.
"I've trained harder than I've trained in a long time for this fight," Jackson said. "You guys are going to see a new Rampage out there."
That's good because the 32-year-old Silva had the old Rampage's number when they met in Pride in Japan in 2003 and 2004, winning both times in dominating fashion.
The Jackson-Silva fight is one of three marquee bouts on Saturday's mixed martial arts card (available on pay-per-view). Griffin defends the 205-pound title he took from Jackson at UFC 86 in July when he faces unbeaten Rashad Evans while interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira meets former title-holder Frank Mir in a battle of coaches from Season 8 of "The Ultimate Fighter."
While the four other big-name fighters talked nice about each Tuesday, Silva and Jackson dispensed with the niceties.
"There's a lot of bad blood between these two," said White. "These two hate each other."
Jackson asked for the fight, bringing White and co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta a list of opponents he wanted to face over the next year.
"Wanderlei Silva was at the top of that list," White said.
Jackson has a long memory and remembers Silva pushing him when he got into the ring after Jackson's win over Kevin Randleman at Pride 25 in March 2003.
"That probably started everything. All the bad blood right there," he said.
Jackson neglected to say he called out Silva that night, saying "I want you boy. It's going to be me and you. That's my belt you've got."
Pride promoters loved theatre - they marketed Jackson as a homeless American who was good with his fists - so probably loved the ensuing near rumble in the ring.
The bad blood continued when they finally met for real in the ring. Known for his Muay Thai skills, Silva used devastating knees to stop Jackson, hitting him with 22 of them before the referee finally stepped in as Jackson toppled.
Jackson knocked Silva down in the first round of the rematch, but the Brazilian had the last laugh. He finished Jackson off with a brutal knee that sent the American falling face first onto the bottom rope. He laid there, almost lifeless until help arrived.
The two fighters don't talk to this day. And their staredown during Tuesday's posing for photographers was very business-like.
In Japan, Silva (32-8-1) was the king of the Pride castle. His wins over Jackson came during a 17-fight unbeaten streak that went from 2000 to 2004. Silva was a mean muscular fighting machine, complete with tattooed skull, who seemed to enjoy inflicting pain when the spotlight shone on him.
"One of the great things about Wanderlei is you always know it's going to be a show. Whether he wins or loses he's always going to put on a fight," said Ed Soares, a friend who manages both Nogueira and middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
"You always gets your money's worth when Wanderlei is fighting."
According to White, Jackson feels he did not get a fair shake in Japan, complaining that when he took Silva down, the fight was quickly stopped and the fighters allowed to get to their feet. He believes that won't be the case here, with the Nevada State Athletic Commission watching over the fight.
After Pride, Jackson moved to the World Fighting Alliance - which was eventually bought by the UFC with White saying the purchase was basically made to get Jackson.
He won the UFC 205-pound title by TKO over Chuck (The Iceman) Liddell at UFC 71 in May 2007. Two fights later, he lost the championship belt to Griffin and pomptly fell apart.
Silva has lost three of his last four, ending the worst run of his career by knocking out Keith (The Dean of Mean) Jardine in just 36 seconds last time out at UFC 84 in May.
Prior to that he was beaten by Chuck Liddell at UFC 79 and Dan Henderson at Pride 33.
NOTES: The UFC is returning to Columbus, Ohio, for the third year straight with UFC 96 scheduled for March 7 at the Nationwide Arena. Tickets go on sale Wednesday for members of the UFC Fight Club and Saturday for the general public. UFC 95 has been confirmed for Feb. 21 at London's O2 Arena ... Lightweights Joe Lauzon and Hermes Franca meet in the main event of the Feb. 7 Fight Night at the Sun Dome in Tampa, Fla.