Photo courtesy of UFC.com
Wanderlei Silva is just 36 years old.
That isn't very old. I'm 35, after all, and I don't feel like I'm advancing into my golden years just yet, despite what others around me might say.
But there's a very real difference between my 35 years and Silva's 36; mostly, it's because I didn't spend the majority of my life going through endless wars in Japan's ruthless PRIDE and in the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Silva is one of the more popular fighters in the history of mixed martial arts. He's a legend, and for very good reason. He was once the most terrifying man on the planet, especially when he stood across from his opponents, rolled his wrists around and gave them the most menacing glare this side of 1980s-era Mike Tyson.
But those days are gone. Today, Silva is but a remnant of the past, a warrior winding down his career and perhaps sticking around the game longer than he should. I'm not calling him a shell of his former self, because it's clear that he still has some of the same ferocity and power that terrified his opponents back in the PRIDE days. But he's no longer the fighter he once was.
Going back to Japan for UFC on Fuel 8 presents Silva with the perfect opportunity to put a bow on his storied career. He'll be back in front of the same rabid fans that made him a superstar in his heyday. And while I don't think he's going to beat Brian Stann, the fight does give him the opportunity to either win and wrap up his career in fairytale fashion or go out on his shield like the true warrior he is.
I hope this is the last time we see "The Axe Murderer" in the cage, for his sake and ours. I don't want to see him deteriorate or take any more damage than he already has; I'd rather see him walk away while he can still function at a decent level.