It's almost shocking Wanderlei Silva never actually killed someone inside the PRIDE Fighting Championships ring.
I'm sure he would have been devastated -- he's a jovial guy from all accounts -- but the aggression he displayed in Japan was second to none and more often than not left his opponent unconscious on the canvas.
Brutal knockout after brutal knockout litter his PRIDE résumé and the list of victims is a who's who of mixed martial arts' finest. Kazushi Sakuraba, Quinton Jackson, Yuki Kondo, and Guy Mezger all share the same experience of being put to sleep by "The Axe Murderer."
There should really be some kind of support group.
Another former champion who escaped a similar fate was Rich Franklin, who locked horns with the Brazilian at UFC 99 in Germany three years ago. They battled back and forth for three rounds with "Ace" earning the decision victory.
Silva gets a second chance at knocking Franklin out next Saturday (June 23) when the two meet inside the Octagon in the former PRIDE champion's home country of Brazil. Their rematch will serve as the main event of UFC 147, a last minute replacement to accommodate Vitor Belfort -- The Ultimate Fighter Brazil coach opposite Silva -- and his broken left hand.
Before "Ace" and "The Axe Murderer" dance for a second time, let's take a look at one of Silva's most impressive performances inside the PRIDE ring.
In 2006, the defunct Japanese fight company held an openweight tournament and the Brazilian filled in for an injured Fedor Emelianenko, taking on thick-skulled and heavy-handed Kazuyuki Fujita in the second round.
In less than 10 minutes, Silva did what had never happened in nearly 20 fights and over half a decade.
He stopped "Ol' Ironhead."
Let's dive right in.
A vintage Wanderlei Silva staredown precedes the bout and it is, of course, amazing.
Fujita takes the center of the ring, bullying Silva against towards the ropes and throws a couple of leg kicks which smack against his opponent's thighs. Silva attempts to answer back with a head kick but misses his target and loses his balance as a result.
As he staggers back against the ropes, Fujita takes the opportunity to charge the Brazilian, hoping the mistake will lead to a potentially fight-ending blow.
Instead, it nearly proves to be Fujita's undoing as Silva cracks him across the jaw as he rushes in and staggers "Ol' Ironhead."
The Japanese warrior stumbles backward and ends up on his knees. Stateside, a fighter might use this position to land some ground and pound or maybe sink in a submission. Across the Pacific, however, kicking a downed opponent was fair game and Silva uses this rule discrepancy to his full advantage.
Punches and knees connect in a flurry against Fujita's skull but he manages to survive. He didn't earn the moniker "Ol' Ironhead" for nothing, after all. He manages to clinch up with Silva, who then transitions into a guillotine. The submission attempt is tight but not tight enough and Fujita pops his head out to the delight of the hometown crowd.
Too close to the ropes for the referee's tastes, the action is restarted in the center of the ring. It is at this point Silva reminds everyone he's not only a stone cold killer on his feet but he's also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) black belt.
He throws up a triangle choke attempt and transitions between that submission and a straight armbar depending on which direction Fujita's body is attempting to move toward. Sliding between two different submission attempts, Silva is unable to keep hold of either one and by what seems like brute force, Fujita powers out and ends up in his opponent's full guard.
Not much action follows as Silva is unwilling his open his guard which forces Fujita to land only small, short punches. After a minute or so of relative inaction, the referee stands them up and issues them both yellow cards, a warning system and purse deduction method utilized in PRIDE.
Each fighter takes a measured approach upon the restart but every time Fujita throws leather, Silva is able to counter well. Two times over a Fujita strike is countered amazingly by the usually wild Brazilian Muay Thai expert.
A second head kick from Silva misses, as does the ensuing spinning back fist attempt from Fujita, who apparently hadn't mastered the strike as well as Dan Henderson.
The two finally throw caution to the wind and begin swinging wildly, each hoping to land the killing blow. A leg kick connects for Silva who then lands a nice 3-4 combination. A second similar combination grazes Fujita who is still visibly stunned from the first duo of blows.
A third 3-4 cracks Fujita across the jaw and he crumples to the mat.
Silva goes in for the kill, attacking Fujita with just about everything as the round begins to tick to a close. Fujita somehow gets back to his feet but more deadly Silva punches land and the Japanese fighter drops to the canvas again.
Fujita tries to grab a hold of Silva's legs but the Brazilian mauler is punching and kicking the crud out of his Japanese opponent.
Finally, his corner can take no more and they opt to throw the towel in.
Never before had "Ol' Ironhead" been knocked out but it didn't matter to "The Axe Murderer."