Photo by Esther Lin via MMA Fighting
After picking a second-round knockout of Brian Stann in his first fight on Japanese soil since 2006 in the UFC on FUEL TV 8: "Silva vs. Stann" headliner last night (March 2, 2013) in Saitama, we discuss what's next for Wanderlei Silva.
Mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Wanderlei Silva returned to Japan with an emphatic victory as he defeated Brian Stann via highlight reel second-round knockout in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 8: "Silva vs. Stann," adding another win to his already historic resume.
Silva turned back the clock with his performance at the Saitama Super Arena, looking like the man who was the Pride middleweight champion for nearly half a decade. "The Axe Murderer" had a vintage showing, engaging in wild exchanges with his opponent until he landed the perfect combination that allowed him to knock Stann out cold.
Exactly 2366 days after his last fight in Japan, Silva couldn't have dreamed of a much better ending in front of the same fans who watched him blossom into one of the most beloved fighters and violent knockout artists in the history of the sport.
After witnessing Silva experience a fairytale victory, this writer would like to see the Brazilian call it a career after 16-plus years and 49 tremendous fights.
At 36 years of age and with seven losses in his past 11 fights, it's been clear for quite some time that Silva is on the back end of his career. With a memorable win over a quality opponent in a main event fight in Japan, everything seems perfectly lined up for one of the sport's all-time greats to go out on top.
The question is -- will he?
Sure, Silva could continue to fight and there is a legion of people who would pay to see him compete, but at what cost does that come to his long-term physical and mental wellbeing? Silva has been on the wrong end of one to many toe-curling knockouts over the years, and even in the fight with Stann was on shaky legs more than once. With his recent move back to the light heavyweight division, Silva is only going to encounter fighters who hit even harder than what he has been dealing with at middleweight for the past four years.
If Silva is absolutely, 100 percent dead set on fighting again after his victory over Stann (which it sounds like he is), and UFC President Dana White is on board with giving him more fights, then there are certainly some intriguing options at 205-pounds.
Sonnen and Silva have exchanged unpleasantries on several occasions over the years, starting with Sonnen making derogatory remarks towards about Silva and his home country of Brazil, and coming to a peak in the form of a confrontation in a car during a UFC media event where Silva told Sonnen to "have respect or lose your teeth."
Sonnen is currently scheduled to challenge Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title at UFC 159 in April, but if he fails to dethrone "Bones," a fight with Silva would definitely be capable of drawing the masses.
Henderson and Silva also have a storied past, as they fought twice under the Pride banner, each winning one contest. The most recent bout was the final appearance in Pride for both, with Henderson defeating Silva via knockout to capture the Pride belt and become the first-ever dual-division champion in a major MMA organization.
Despite Henderson being far and away ahead of Silva in the official UFC rankings, trilogy bouts garner interest, and with the history and name value of Henderson and Silva, it wouldn't be shocking to see a third fight between the two take place.
While both potential match ups sound good on paper, the option Silva should lean towards is retirement. It's not often a fighter gets the chance to walk away under such perfect circumstances, and Silva has that opportunity. Hopefully he takes advantage of it.
What would you like to see Silva do next? Should he hang up the gloves for good, or would you like to see him continue fighting?
Let us know in the comments section below.