It's the one that got away.
After years of back-and-forth jibber jabber, the one grudge match mixed martial arts (MMA) fans never got to see was the middleweight showdown between ex-Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) contender Chael Sonnen and former PRIDE smashing machine Wanderlei Silva.
No, this doesn't count.
We came close, mind you, at the UFC 175 pay-per-view (PPV) event last July; however, a pair of failed drug tests put the kibosh on their 185-pound showdown and effectively eliminated them from active competition (more on that fiasco here).
Sonnen has moved on with his life and parlayed his career in combat sports into new endeavors (like this one), while Silva is clomping around the digital landscape with a major "Axe" to grind, declaring war on all those who would stand in the way of his MMA career.
Something that appears difficult for his former nemesis to digest, according to his conversation with Bloody Elbow:
"I don't know who is advising Wanderlei and I don't know who his management team is, if they have a PR arm, but I really disagree with the way he has gone about things. My suspicion is that he's not getting advice from anywhere. He seems to be making all these moves on his own. I really wish he would just slow down. He's at a weird point in his life; when your career starts coming to an end, and that's what you're used to doing every day, it's hard to deal with. You get used to a certain lifestyle; the working out every day, the interviews and appearances...everybody goes through it. As athletes, we go through these life altering changes while we're still young. Athletes don't retire at 65. We have to retire much earlier, so I think what we're all seeing is Wanderlei going through some of these changes that he's struggling with. He's still trying to figure out how to navigate them. I don't know who's managing him, but the things he's doing are not things I would advise him to do... He got credit for his hard work. Do you know how hard that is to achieve? People build buildings all the time, beautiful ones, but nobody knows who made them. That's just what life is. You go out, you contribute and you come home at the end of the day. This is a really unique thing where you get those pats on the back. I just want to shake him and say, ‘You've got to step back and see the bigger picture here.' He didn't have to do this. He got to do this. I didn't have to fight Anderson Silva. I got to fight him. It's all about building memories and having something to look back on."
Get a sample of Wandy's rants here.
Sonnen came clean about "gaming the system" and after a few weeks of poo-pooing from fight fans, was able to put the entire matter behind him. Silva, however, remained defiant after skipping town when Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) came calling, then proceeded to blame everyone in UFC for holding him down.
He even tried to break bread with the enemy.
How much longer "The Axe Murderer" continues to lash out is unclear at this time, but considering he's banned from MMA and Pete Rose'd from the UFC hall of fame, the sooner he can put the past behind him, the better.
"If I could just get him on the phone for 10 minutes, I'd give him some advice," Sonnen told Steph Daniels. "I doubt he'd listen, but I would try to help him."