Wanderlei Silva began his MMA career in his childhood, even if he did not realize it at the time. He joined the military and was recognized for his fighting abilities. He then ventured into starting his professional career in 1996 at the Brazilian Vale Tudo Fighting 6. He knocked out Dilson Filho in the first round and began what would become a legendary journey into MMA history.
Silva, a native of Brazil, had success in his early years in various companies like IVC and BVF before stepping up to the UFC and spending most of the time between 1999 and 2007 fighting for Pride. His stardom and following was never stronger than his days in the Japanese promotion. He fought many other legends of the sport such as Quentin Jackson, Mirko “Cro Cop”, and Dan Henderson. He won the Pride Middleweight Championship as well as the 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix. He also had a handful of “Fight of the Night” honors while with Pride. He has a massive following in Japan, and always enjoyed putting on a show for his fans there.
Although he had taken a couple of fights with the UFC, 2007 would be the year Wanderlei came to the ultimate stage in MMA. He entered the octagon against Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell in what most experts agreed would be a slug fest, and the fight lived up to the hype. Silva would lose a decision that night, but would bounce back with a win in his next UFC fight. The “Axe Murderer” has had an up and down ride with the UFC and battled constant remarks that it is time to hang it up, and just when you start to feel like maybe they are right…he comes up with a vicious and brutal knockout of Brain Stann. It certainly doesn’t silence those begging for him to hang it up and go out on a high note, but it equally encourages talk of “one more run” at the title.
I think to fans who have watched Wanderlei over the years, it is obvious he has slowed down and perhaps some would say his chin is more suspect than it was in his younger years. I agree with those statements, but I also think a Wanderlei that has lost a step is still better than many of the current younger fighters in the sport. Silva has always been one of the sport’s top stars and is known for putting on brutal fights that get fans out of their seats. At this time, it sounds as if he intends to fight again and I don’t claim to know if that is the right decision for him regarding his health. But, I do know one thing. Anytime the “The Axe Murderer” decides to step into the octagon, I will be there to watch. Maybe I’m being selfish, as a fight fan, for wanting to see him fight again, but when a fighter has given so many epic battles, I feel I owe it to him to want to see more.
Wanderlei, you are a true legend in this sport and I thank you for the blood, sweat and tears you have shed for my enjoyment of this sport. I do not know if you will choose to fight again or decide it is the proper time to walk away, but I do know that if and when you choose to fight again, you have dedicated fans who will be there to watch. Long live “The Axe Murderer”!