Wanderlei Silva, the owner of over 20 victories in PRIDE FC, returned to fight in Japan for the first time since 2006 this weekend. Gone are the days of Silva being a major pay-per-view headliner, as now he headlines UFC on Fuel TV 8, which is UFC’s fourth biggest platform. With the recent cuts of Jon Fitch and Diego Nunes, many pointed the finger at Wanderlei Silva and his unimpressive record, expensive contract, and old age in comparison. With no disrespect to Fitch or Nunes, they never provided moments like Wanderlei Silva did at UFC on Fuel 8.
The victim of four brutal knockouts since 2006, as well as several other high-profile losses, Silva has long fought being forced into retirement. His fighting style, very fan-friendly, and sometimes overwhelming, earned him a loyal fan base, in which can’t be compared to any other fighter. From the entrance music, to his signature muay thai wrist warm up, Silva in 2013 not only creates nostalgic moments, he continues to make MMA history.
While his win against Brian Stann won’t exactly propel him into title contention, the fight, the moment, will be long remembered. Out of the gate, Silva and Stann stood toe to toe, trading huge punches. In the middle of the cage, against the fence, in the clinch, anywhere a punch could be landed, the two warriors connected. I’ve covered and trained in MMA for years, and I wouldn’t even know how to go about scoring the war that occurred in the first round.
After being dropped multiple times, and Stann actually slipping several times himself, tension was high in the second round. Trading huge, knockout threatening shots until Stann was caught with a classic Silva windmill combination, and put on his back. Silva followed up with with shots that finished the bout, and absolutely ignited the crowd at the Saitama Super Arena.
Wanderlei, who has a suspect chin, doesn’t wrestle in his fights, rarely employs his exceptional jiu jitsu skills, and doesn’t typically use much technical striking, was a definitive underdog in this bout. While PRIDE FC has indeed long been dead, Wanderlei Silva represents those memories, and garners a major emotional reaction from fans. He grabs attention, and imagination. He’s a legend in the sport. While he won’t be in anyone’s top 10 rankings, there’s nothing wrong with him performing on cards like this, earning a living, and entertaining the fans. Especially when he has the ability to create history every time he puts on a pair of gloves.
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