Two warriors took to the Octagon last night (March 2, 2013) as Pride legend Wanderlei Silva returned to Japan to take on former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann at 205 pounds in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8.
It was a bout between two of the most ferocious and powerful stand-up strikers on the UFC roster, and it delivered in one of the wildest two-round fights in UFC history.
The normally reserved Japanese crowd had a Brazilian contingent chanting Silva's name to get things started and both men came ready to bang as Stann stalked the former Pride champion down. You knew exactly what type of fight this was going to be once Stann stepped forward with his first right hand as Silva got backed into the fence and began swinging with reckless abandon like a cornered animal. Both men traded massive blows and the crowd went wild as Silva threw some of his patented knees and both men exchanged heavy hooks from the Thai collar position with Stann hurting Silva pretty badly.
Undeterred, "The Axe Murderer" cleared the cobwebs by changing levels and looking for a takedown but the second he had recovered, they separated and went right back to war. Silva nodding to Stann as if motioning for him to bring it on as both men again traded massive blows with Stann once more gaining the upper hand and rocking the former Pride champion.
Silva again survived by clinching and perhaps got a bit lucky with a low blow from Stann to help him recover even more. After another minute on the feet, they both exploded with a violent exchange that saw both men blast each other with massive shots. Silva wound up on his back with Stann bleeding all over him from top position while dropping some punches.
Both men came out much more reserved in the second round, and why not? They had spent a ridiculous amount of energy in the opening frame and they deserved a breather.
Silva began to turn the tables however, taking the center of the cage away from "The All-American" and changing the momentum of the fight, throwing a nice lead right hand and a head kick to keep him honest. With Stann now forced to fight a bit more defensively, the Brazilian legend stepped inside with a beautiful right hook followed by a left which dropped the former marine.
With Stann hurt on the ground and covering up, Silva dropped huge looping right hands to put his lights out as the Japanese crowd lost its collective minds.
For Brian Stann, he deserves credit for fighting Wanderlei Silva's fight, charging forward and making for one of the most entertaining bouts in recent memory. Stann had his moments, hurting Silva on several occasions but he was a bit too wild and he allowed "The Axe Murderer" to recover with a takedown attempt or a clinch both times and then he made matters worse for himself with a poorly timed low blow which allowed Silva to recover even more. Once he stopped being the aggressor and taking charge in the second round, he was in trouble as Stann is simply not a counter puncher and it was only a matter of time until he ate a bit shot from Silva.
Stann will fight again as long as he wants to. That was an unbelievable performance that fans will be raving about when "Fight of the Year" debates go into affect. He'll be dropping down to the middleweight division again and don't be surprised to see him square off against someone like Tim Boetsch. If that's too high up the food chain, opponents like Stanislav Nedkov or Andrew Craig would make sense.
For Wanderlei Silva, he somehow channeled that old school "Axe Murderer" inside him and put on one of the wildest and most entertaining performances of his entire career. Yes, he got hurt on multiple occasions in the opening round, but his survival instincts were fantastic as he was able to close the distance and hang on to Stann until the world stopped spinning. Silva got his licks in during that insane first round as well, and while he didn't get the better of all the exchanges, he did some good damage, busting up Stann's nose both inside and out with a nasty cut on the bridge.
In the second round, as Stann fought more reserved, Silva took the initiative and this was where the tide turned in the fight. Instead of constantly having to back up and fight reactionary, SIlva went to his roots which was being the aggressor, moving forward and trying to find that opening to connect the fight-finishing blow. It started with a lead right hand, then a bit later it was a head kick. Finally Silva stepped inside with a hook combination which sent his opponent reeling to the cage floor and once the Brazilian's finishing instincts kicked in, Stann didn't stand a chance.
In all honesty, there's no better storybook ending for Silva than to call it a career after returning to Japan and winning the main event in devastating fashion, as my colleague Jesse Holland suggests, but we all know he won't. Silva wants to keep fighting and after a performance like last night, who am I to tell him to stop?