Greatness is often measured not just by success but also longevity. UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva is so damn special in part because he's been the top of the food chain for so very long. But he's no mortal man, not really.
Wanderlei Silva, on the other hand, is most definitely a mortal man.
We've seen this proven the many times he's engaged in knockdown, drag it out brawls with the likes of Dan Henderson, Chuck Liddell, and Rich Franklin. Some of those wars are legendary in mixed martial arts (MMA) history and as long as he's allowed to stick around in the fight game, he'll likely continue to provide them.
Such was the case with the UFC on FUEL TV 8 main event last night (Sat., March 2, 2013) at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, when he went toe-to-toe with the hard-hitting Brian Stann and sustained a great deal of punishment on his way to a second round knockout win.
The sweet smell of victory will always outweigh the damage accrued to get there.
That's the problem, too. Silva knows that feeling, he loves that feeling, and he loves transferring that feeling to his fans in a way only he can. His brawling style has endeared him to a larger than normal portion of the MMA fan base, a group of folks who want only for more. He's all too eager to give it to them, even if he should probably hang up the gloves and go out on a high note.
At the UFC on FUEL TV 8 post-fight press conference, he at least acknowledged that the clock is ticking but made no firm commitment to setting a date for his swan song, instead lobbying for yet another return to "The Land of the Rising Sun":
"I fight one fight at a time right now. I feel healthy, but I know sooner or later I'm gonna need to stop the job, but I'm happy for getting this feeling, this energy from my fans, make the show for my fans, make my fans happy. ...I'm so glad the UFC gave me the opportunity for me to fight one last time in Brazil and fighting here. If UFC gives me the opportunity to come back here, I'm happy to fight in Japan again. I have the best moments of my life here and today is one more."
Wanderlei is a legend, beloved by his fans and respected by his contemporaries. But he'll be 37-years-old in July and he's been knocked out cold no less than four times since 2006.
It's difficult to watch someone you love leave you. But sometimes it's for the best.
Either way, we'll have to wait for another day to say goodbye.
For a live blog of each round of the Silva vs. Stann fight click here, to watch highlights from the bout click here, and for complete results and blow-by-blow, story-by-story coverage of all the UFC on FUEL TV 8 action click here.