At the start of the promotion's 2008 fight campaign, it was no secret among the inner circles of Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) decision makers that Wanderlei Silva's career was in jeopardy.
Once heralded as the most dangerous man in PRIDE Fighting Championship, "The Axe Murderer" finished his caeer in Japan with two brutal knockout losses. After Mirko Filipovic turned out the lights at "Final Conflict Absolute," Dan Henderson pasted him with a vicious left at "Second Coming" just a few months later.
Those violent finishes took some of the luster off his planned "superfight" against Chuck Liddell at UFC 79, though to be fair, "The Iceman" had also faltered in recent fights, going to sleep against Quinton Jackson before losing a split decision to Keith Jardine.
One of these men would fall to 0-3 and after three rounds of intense action, it was Silva.
Wandy was now in his thirties and had nearly 40 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) fights to his name. That doesn't include the unsanctioned and unrecorded battles he fought in Brazil before the industry boom in the late nineties.
Surely there would be no shame in hanging up the gloves with another high-profile loss.
Standing between Silva and the dreaded "conversation" with UFC President Dana White was "The Dean of Mean." The hulking light heavyweight was a contestant on the sophomore season of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) and shot himself to the top of the division with big wins over Liddell and Forrest Griffin.
Prior to his rapid deterioration as a fighter, Jardine's unorthodox (and dangerous) style was problematic for a lot of strikers at 205 pounds.
It was do-or-die time for Silva, who would get one last chance to prolong his combat sports career at the UFC 84: "Ill Will" pay-per-view (PPV) event back on May 24, 2008 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here's how it all went down.
"Wow, that's a serious staredown right there," remarks UFC color commentator Joe Rogan.
No touch of gloves as the action gets underway. Both fighters circle briefly before Jardine comes over the top with a right hand. Silva blocks it and continues to keep his hands held high. "The Dean of Mean" assumes the role of aggressor and lumbers in with punches.
Silva staggers him with a straight 1-2 combination.
Jardine resets and tries again, but this time goes low with an inside leg kick. The results would prove disastrous, as "The Axe Murderer" swings his blade and chops right through the attack, putting fist to face and sending the "Mean 1" into a heap.
Silva pounces and applies a rape-choke while smashing the skull of his frozen foe.
Referee Steve Mazzagatti has no choice but to intervene and send the Brazilian to his corner, where he willingly retreats to celebrate his career's new lease of life.
"Wanderlei Silva is back," exclaims Rogan.
Silva would once again hit a rough patch following his UFC 84 win and he eventually dropped to middleweight, experiencing mixed results. Now, in the twilight of his career, he returns to 205 pounds for a headlining bout against Brian Stann at the UFC on FUEL TV 8 extravaganza this Saturday night (March 2, 2013) in Wandy's old stomping grounds of Saitama, Japan.
Will the former World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) light heavyweight champion spoil his homecoming in "The Land of the Rising Sun?" For a historical look back at the "All American's" impact on the sport of MMA and beyond click here.