Wanderlei Silva was once one of the biggest stars in UFC and will always be remembered as such, but after losing to Rich Franklin for a second time at UFC 147 on Saturday, it is now time for the Brazilian to retire from mixed martial arts.
Six years ago, the now-35-year-old Silva held a career record of 31-5-1 and was still on top of his game. Since that point, however, things have gone downhill for him.
Silva is just 3-7 over his past 10 fights and he simply isn't the same dominant fighter that he was for so many years. Silva continues to hang in there and put forth great effort, but it isn't getting the job done anymore.
Rich Franklin is a solid fighter in his own right, but he is 37 years old and somebody who Silva should be able to beat. Franklin has defeated him twice in convincing fashion, though, and he looks like the younger fighter when that isn't the case.
Silva has been fighting since 1996 and has been in nearly 50 bouts, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that he is starting to slow down. Silva has more tread on his tires than most UFC fighters ever have, and it seems to have taken its toll on him.
As tough as it may be for long-time fans of the sport to hear, ultimate fighting is a young man's game. In one respect, Silva's experience is an asset as it can help him in the Octagon, but if his body can't put his knowledge to work, then it's simply counterproductive at this point.
Most fans still view Silva as an all-time great, but if he continues to fight and lose, then his legacy figures to be tarnished.
Watching an athlete attempt to relive his past glory when he doesn't have anything left in the tank is always a sad thing to see. It seems to happen often in UFC, but Silva needs to make sure that he doesn't become one of those guys.
Silva used to be one of the most vicious and dangerous fighters in the sport, and that is how he should be remembered.
Perhaps older fans of the sport won't forget Silva's early accomplishments, but all newer fans have seen over the past few years is Silva losing. He likely isn't viewed as a legitimate contender by anyone who has picked up UFC in the past five years, so he isn't receiving his due credit.
I'm sure fighting is something that Silva loves to do and the paychecks must be nice as well, but there are more important things to consider.
Not only has his reputation been damaged, but he is putting himself in harm's way now more than ever. MMA always has and always will be a dangerous sport, but Silva used to be the hunter. Now he is the hunted, however, and it puts him at a much greater risk to be injured.
Silva has already proven all he needs to prove in UFC, but I get the feeling that pride is what makes him continue fighting. Silva should hold his head up high and retire with dignity now, though, rather than continuing down his current path.
Not only is Silva's won-lost record being damaged, but he could be harmed significantly on a physical level as well if he doesn't do the smart thing and walk away.
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