One of the greatest and most exciting fighters with the undisputed most intimidating nickname in the history of mixed martial arts retired recently.
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva called it a career with 35-12 record in the middle of September 2014.
Silva retires with a wimper rather than in a blaze of glory, the opposite of how he fought and will be remembered by mixed martial arts fans worldwide. Silva retired by posting a video online, which was picked up by the mma and sports press. Shorty after the video announcement, Silva received a $70,000 fine and lifetime ban from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. Silva blasted the UFC for underpaying him and all fighters in the video, also saying they killed his love of the sport by making him fight too much. Dana White responded by saying Silva was paid $9.7 million for six fights in five years.
It is unfortunate the way Silva’s career has ended. Regardless of specter of PED use and fight ducking that will hang over his retirement, Wanderlei Silva’s legacy and place in mixed martial arts history is forever intact thanks to his historically entertaining run through the Pride Fighting Championships of Japan from 2000-2007.
I originally became a fan of the UFC during their first few shows in the mid 90s but then like the majority of people, stopped watching. There are three fighters that made me a fan of the sport again; Wanderlei Silva, Frank Mir, and Tito Ortiz. Ortiz for his ability to hype fights, Mir for his submission skills, and Silva for his insanely entertaining knockout ability.
During his prime Silva was a textbook knockout artist. Truly an artist. He KO’d top flight competition with his fists, elbows, knees, and kicks. He fought in the wild wild far east of Japan. Silva routinely fought people above his weight class in a promotion that was about the big fight atmosphere and freak match ups. In that environment and era, Silva was the king of the freaks and the big fights.
His middleweight title run (Pride’s equivalent to the UFC light heavyweight title) alone is worth looking into PrideFC. Silva was everything that fight fans want a fighter to be whether they admit it or not. Throwing caution and safety to the wind for the sake of either knocking out his opponent or getting knocked out in the process in the name of entertaining the people who paid to see him fight.
Silva is one of the last of a dying breed in mixed martial arts. A fighter first, martial artist second. He fought in bare knuckle fights years before he entered sanctioned competition. He wanted spectacular KO finishes rather than grinding out a decision victory to get a payday and a padded record. He fought heavyweights and super heavyweights rather than only fighting people he had a distinct size advantage over. He competed in tournaments regularly both before and during his championship reign.
2004 was the peak of Wanderlei Silva‘s career. He was the undisputed best fighter in the sport that year. Taking multiple awards/honors for fighter of the year and fight of the year from publications such as Sherdog, MMA Fighting, Wrestling Observer Newsletter, and Sports Illustrated.
No one who saw Wand’s prime will care about the checkered ending to his career. Our memory of him is too full of images of knockouts and Silva screaming into the camera after administering said knockout or as I like to think, the way a person who gets paid to be a fighter should be remembered.