Wanderlei Silva

Wanderlei Silva | “The Axe Murderer”
Ht: 5’11 – Wt: 205 – Age: 36
Born: Curitiba, Brazil
Fights out of: Las Vegas, NV, USA
Team: Wand Fight Team
Overall Record: 34-12-1
UFC Record: 4-7

Wanderlei Silva was the former PRIDE middleweight (205 lbs.) champion and was once considered the most devastating striker in the sport. Wanderlei made his mixed martial arts debut in his native Brazil back in 1996. Silva began his career 2-0 before competing in a one-night, 8-man tournament, where he eventually lost in the finals due to a cut. Silva returned a year later to defeat future UFC veteran Mike Van Arsdale before signing with the UFC in 1998. Silva’s debut in the UFC did not lost long as he was knocked out by fellow Brazilian star Vitor Belfort. Silva continued to find success in Brazil where he won his next 2 fights, including a win over Eugene Jackson before scoring his first UFC win over Tony Petarra at UFC 20. Silva, soon signed with PRIDE, where he won his first 2 fights over Carl Malenko and Daijiro Matsui. Silva returned to the UFC once more, this time to challenge Tito Ortiz for his UFC light heavyweight championship. Wanderlei was unable to stop Tito’s takedowns and top control as he lost via unanimous decision. Wanderlei eventually returned to PRIDE where his legendary career began to take shape. Wanderlei scored a huge knockout over veteran Guy Mezger before quickly moving on to defeat Dan Henderson via decision. Wanderlei stunned Kazushi Sakuraba at PRIDE 13, finishing the Japanese legend via 1st round TKO. Wanderlei eventually defeated Sakuraba for the second time at PRIDE 17 to capture the PRIDE middleweight (205 lbs.) championship. Wanderlei’s invincibility continued to grow as he knocked out a host of Japanese veterans in PRIDE. Silva took part in PRIDE’s 2003 middleweight (205 lbs.) Grand Prix, where he defeated Sakuraba, Hidehiko Yoshida, and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson to win the the tournament. Silva moved on to scoree 3 consecutive knockouts over Ikuhisa Minowa, Yuki Kondo, and Quinton Jackson before suffering his first loss in nearly 4 years to heavyweight Mark Hunt in a non-title bout. In 2005, Silva once again took part in PRIDE’s middleweight (205 lbs.) Grand Prix, defeating Yoshida and Kazuhiro Nakamura before suffering a decision loss to Ricardo Arona in the semi-finals. Silva avenged his loss to Arona 4 months later. Wanderlei defied the odds by taking part in PRIDE’s 2006 open-weight Grand Prix. Despite being grossly out-sized, Silva defeated Kazuyuki Fuijta via TKO before eventually losing to Mirko Cro Cop due to a devastating head kick. Silva looked to bounce back against Dan Henderson, but once again lost via vicious knockout, subsequently losing his PRIDE middleweight championship. Silva eventually signed with the UFC following PRIDE’s demise in 2007. Silva faced off against former UFC champion and rival Chuck Liddell in what was once considered the dream fight of mixed martial arts. Both former champions had recently fallen on hard times, but they did not disappoint as both men delivered a back-and-forth fight that had fans on their feet. In the end, Liddell won via decision, but Wanderlei showed that he still had a lot of mileage left on his aging body. Wanderlei bounced back in a big way at UFC 84 by brutally knocking out UFC light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine in the 1st round. Silva was quickly working his way back up the ranks, but soon ran up against his former PRIDE nemesis Quinton Jackson who was intent on getting his revenge following two earlier losses to Silva in PRIDE. Jackson scored the knockout, which began to prompt retirement talks from the UFC’s upper management and fans. Silva decided to continue fighting and announced his move to the UFC middleweight division. Silva would first have a test run at a catchweight of 195 lbs., where he lost a close decision to Rich Franklin. Silva officially made his middleweight debut by winning a close decision over Michael Bisping at UFC 110, possibly giving hope to Silva fans that he could still make a run towards a UFC title. Silva struggled with injuries in 2010, before finally returning to face Chris Leben at UFC 132. Silva suffered a 1st round knockout once again prompting retirement rumors to surface. With Silva possibly facing his UFC release or a forced retirement, he squared off against Cung Le at UFC 139, and despite having a few scares in the 1st round, eventually stormed back to win via 2nd round TKO.

2011 Breakdown:
Silva fought twice in 2011, going 1-1 overall.
Wanderlei faced off against fellow striker Chris Leben at UFC 132 following an 18-month layoff. Wanderlei immediately looked to swarm Leben with punches, but during a brief clinch, Leben connected on a few solid uppercuts that dropped Silva. Leben landed a few more punches before the referee was forced to stop the fight.
With Wanderlei Silva possibly on the brink of retirement, he stepped in to face Cung Le at UFC 139. Le found early success with his mix of kicks and spinning backfists that constantly had Silva back-pedaling. Wanderlei finally responded with a few flurries towards the end of the round, but round 1 likely went to Le. The 2nd round saw both men continue to trade strikes, but Le began to tire down. Le still landed some good shots, but it was Wanderlei who carefully stalked Le around the cage, scoring with punches and eventually some huge knees from the Thai clinch. Silva finished Le with a few more big knees that ultimately dropped Le to the floor. Le was trying to get grab hold of Wanderlei, but the ref waved the fight off revealing a Le’s badly broken nose.

2012 Forecast:
Wanderlei continues to fight on despite the wishes of those who feel he should retire. Wanderlei is one of the absolute legends of the sport, but he may begin to tarnish his legacy should he continue fighting after another knockout loss. Silva responded in his fight with Le, staving off retirement in the process, but there are few match-ups left for Silva besides taking on the top contenders of the division. He did fare well against Michael Bisping, and likely could find possible success if he were to be booked against fighters without knockout power. Wanderlei is 36 years old and his body has absorbed a ton of accumulated damage over the years, especially the last few. Wanderlei has done well against wrestlers and grapplers in the past, so he will hopefully be given the opportunity to compete against the likes of Sonnen, Okami, and Munoz. Should Silva be able to beat one of those aforementioned contenders, he may be able to make one last run at the title before calling it a career.

Wanderlei Silva Fight Record

Overall Record: 34-11-1
2008-2011 Record: 3-3

2011 Record: 1-1
Win | Cung Le | Tko | Rd 2 | UFC | 11/19/2011
Loss | Chris Leben | KO | Rd 1 | UFC | 07/02/2011

2010 Record: 1-0
Win | Michael Bisping | Dec | Rd 3 | UFC | 02/20/2010

2009 Record: 0-1
Loss | Rich Franklin | Dec | Rd 3 | UFC | 06/13/2009

2008 Record: 1-1
Loss | Quinton Jackson | KO | Rd 1 | UFC | 12/27/2008
Win | Keith Jardine | KO | Rd 1 | UFC | 05/24/2008

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