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History in the Making: Wanderlei Silva crushes Rampage Jackson at Pride 28

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I've made it no secret that I was a huge fan of Pride Fighting Championships (Pride) during their too-short lifetime. There was just so much to enjoy about the Japanese fight promotion. The giant arenas they packed to the brim, the larger than life presentation in which the shows were produced, the roster of fighters that, at its peak, rivaled what the UFC claims today.

In its prime, Pride simply wasn't a mixed martial arts (MMA) company, it was the MMA company.

A major reason a ton of mystique surrounded the promotion was none other than "The Axe Murderer," Wanderlei Silva. The fearsome Brazilian striker ruled the 203-pound division for years, never relenting, never yielding, and always looking to put his opponent to sleep in the most brutal way possible.

He knocked out the likes of Kazushi Sakuraba, Yuki Kondo, and Ikuhisa Minowa. But no single knockout is more (in)famous than the one he delivered to Quinton Jackson in the their second bout. "Rampage" had fallen victim to Silva's brutality once before and couldn't stop himself from getting put to sleep once again in the rematch.

Silva's career has been less than stellar of late but he hopes to turn it around this Saturday night (Nov. 19) at UFC 139 when he takes on fellow striker Cung Le. With only two wins in his last eight fights, another loss could spell the end of the Brazilian's storied career. If he performs anything like he did at Pride 28, that should be no concern.

Here's why:

The fight opens up with Jackson immediately walking Silva down. He clinches up with the Brazilian, putting the champion along the ropes. He attempts to wear Silva down but soon "The Axe Murderer" is able to reverse position on "Rampage." It isn't for long, however, as Jackson gets the Brazilian's back against the corner as he works towards a takedown. A low blow causes a short break in the action and the two are restarted in the center of the ring.

They begin exchanging like mad men and Jackson looks better for it. He blocks well and delivers a nice counter straight that catches Silva flush. They wrap up again and the champion tries to secure a Thai clinch to deliver some of those knees "Rampage" is all too familiar with. Silva throws a big one but ends up missing wildly and they end up in the corner before another referee stoppage puts them back in the center.

"The Axe Murderer" immediately begins attacking with his trademark looping hooks, putting together a string of powerful punches before immediately latching onto Jackson's head once again and putting his Muay Thai training to good use. He bullies "Rampage" into the corner, delivering short punches, one of which opens a cut under Jackson's eye. The American, sensing the danger, gets Silva in a headlock and drags the Brazilian to the mat. The fight is paused yet again to check on Jackson's cut before they're restarted in the same position they were in when interrupted.

From his back, the champ offers a couple of different submission threats, nearly securing a triangle choke on one occasion and teasing a kimura on another. Jackson, for his part, batters his opponent with the type of ground and pound wrestlers have built their MMA reputation on.

Less than three minutes remaining in the 10-minute opening round and Silva scores nicely with an upkick that forces "Rampage" to close the distance. Only willing to score short elbows from the guard, a lull in the action forces the referee to admonish both fighters with yellow cards, penalizing them a portion of their purse.

Silva scores with a leg kick and then again with a nasty kick to the body. A second body kick is countered perfectly by Jackson who tags "The Axe Murderer" right on the chin, forcing the Brazilian to stagger to the mat. The American immediately pounces in the final minute, landing potentially fight-ending ground and pound to his greatest rival.

A triangle attempt is shrugged off by the wrestler who answers back with a devastating punch. He continues the onslaught -- for much longer than the timer displayed it seems -- and for a brief moment, it appeared as if Pride would finally have a new 203-pound champion.

The second stanza begins and again, the two trade punches like featherweights. A takedown attempt from Silva is reversed by Jackson but the champion soon ends up on top. Fortunately for his opponent, "The Axe Murderer" does little from the position aside. It isn't until two minutes in the round that he finally makes his move. He stands up and begins delivering deadly stomps as is the Chute Boxe Academy way. None connect but it offers "Rampage" the opportunity to get back to his feet.

Both vertical, Silva begins to pepper his opponent's legs with kicks. An exchange leads to a beautiful right by Silva that causes Jackson's left eye to swell up. Seconds later, another exchange produces an even more devastating result. 

"The Axe Murder's" right fist connects with Jackson's skull with a sickening thud. In the slo-motion replay, you can see the shockwaves coursing through the American's body. "Rampage" is staggered, hurt and unable to defend himself. In short, he's ripe for Silva's picking.

The champion wraps his opponent up in another Thai clinch -- much like the one that led to the end of their first bout -- and began landing knee after knee with Jackson nearly powerless to stop him. One knee connects flush with skull and "Rampage" collapses face first like a giant redwood through the middle and bottom rope.

The referee immediately stops the assault and lifts Jackson to turn him on his back. When he does, the camera catches a glimpse of the pool of blood that has collected underneath the fallen fighter's face.

It is single-handedly the most beautifully violent display of destruction I have ever seen in the sport.


Will we see a similar display on Saturday?

As a longtime "Axe Murderer" fan, I can only hope so.

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