Wanderlei Silva vs Vitor Belfort at UFC Rio? You betta 'Axe' somebody

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The fans want it, "The Phenom" wants it, heck, even "The Axe Murderer" wants it.

I'm talking of course about the long overdue rematch between Wanderlei Silva and Vitor Belfort, who first met inside the cage more than a decade ago at UFC 17.5: "Ultimate Brazil."

Belfort defeated Silva in just 44 seconds by way of technical knockout.

From this fan's perspective there's no better place to hold part two than "Rio," when the promotion returns to Brazil for their upcoming pay-per-view event at the HSBC Arena on August 27, 2011.

There's just one problem.

Despite his desire to get back into the middleweight title hunt, Silva has been out of action due to injuries for over a year, having not seen the inside of the Octagon since a unanimous decision win over Michael Bisping at UFC 110 back in February 2010.

And as longtime "Axe" mentor-er Rafael Cordeiro explains to Sherdog.com, you don't just take a year off and expect to stay competitive against a dangerous striker like Vitor Belfort:

"I think Wanderlei is coming off multiple injuries, but, at the same time, he has a desire to make this fight. There is a desire as an athlete and a fighter to make this rematch with Vitor. I think, at this point, in my opinion as a friend and coach, he should have a fight with someone else before Vitor. When I say someone, I mean anyone who gets him back to being active. This fight with Vitor will become very important in his life, and he really wants it. For Wanderlei to be 100 percent for the fight with Vitor, it’s important that he get another fight before it. Vitor just fought for the belt, and, thinking about the rhythm of the fight, he’s ahead of Wanderlei in that regard. I’m not saying that he’s better than Wanderlei, but Wanderlei needs to pick up his pace [before they fight]."

Belfort recently had his face re-arranged by division champion Anderson Silva in the main event of their UFC 126 title fight earlier this year. "The Phenom" has been chomping at the bit to get back in action and redeem himself following his Las Vegas "Spider" bite.

The feud with his fellow Brazilian began long before he ever challenged for the 185-pound belt, as Belfort and Silva were slinging mud over just about everything, which only amplified the fans cries for a rematch.

Some highlights:

Wandy: Belfort is "mentally weak" and "running away."

Phenom: Wandy is "just a spectator who wants to get attention for himself" and "has a big mouth."

Silva was recently approached by the UFC to coach opposite Brian Stann on a future edition of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF); however, he didn't like the idea of being pitted against an American hero and instead asked for Chris Leben, who Stann defeated at UFC 125 earlier this year.

So far no decision has been made by the UFC as to who Silva will fight next, but it sounds like Cordeiro is suggesting a "tune-up" fight to get him back into the swing of things.

That's a nice way of asking the promotion to let him crush a can and regain his traction prior to getting into the cage with one of the division's most dangerous punchers.

Anyone think it's the right approach? Or should Silva strike while the iron is hot?

Opinions, please.

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