Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting
Tonight (Sat., Nov. 19, 2011), at UFC 139: "Shogun vs. Henderson" at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California, Wanderlei Silva steps back inside the Octagon against a debuting Cung Le. A loss, particularly via stoppage, could mark the final time we see "The Axe Murderer" compete under the Zuffa banner.
That's because UFC President Dana White has already made it clear that any more brutal losses suffered by the once legendary "Axe Murderer" will results in a meeting, pink slip optional.
Silva is doing everything he can to avoid that meeting. On top of working himself into the best shape he's been in for some time, the Brazilian brought in a secret weapon to help prepare him for the Sanshou stylings of Le -- the pound-for-pound king and Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva.
What "The Spider" can't do is restore "Wandy's" chin, which has seemingly been reduced to powder. Of course, his four brutal knockout losses in the past five years have been suffered at the hands (and legs) of Chris Leben, Quinton Jackson, Dan Henderson and Mirko Filipovic, respectively.
The collective power in that list is enough to break through a brick wall.
That brings to mind the obvious question -- does Le have enough power to crack Silva's chin hard enough to sleep him inside 15 minutes?
The answer is a resounding maybe.
That's because we can't really be sure that Le will ever land clean on Silva's chin. His game, flashy kicks and measured attacks, doesn't really lend itself to one big punch finding the button and shutting off his opponents system.
It's more about overwhelming through confusion. Not smoke and mirrors so much as flash and awe. Silva's defense has always left plenty to be desired. Whether he's working with Anderson Silva or not, his deficiencies have been on display for years.
Will Le be able to take advantage?
That remains to be seen, until tonight of course. Even in victory, though, how much is to be gained here? We're not really doing away with the old in favor of the even older, are we?
Maybe we are. And maybe that's not such a bad thing.