Prior to Saturday's fights in Japan, Wanderlei Silva appeared to be on the verge of retirement if you listened to most fighters, critics, analysts and journalists.
A run in the UFC that has landed him with a 4-5 record overall, Silva's best days where he was known as the wrecking machine of MMA seemed well behind him, and his bout against Brian Stann headlining UFC on Fuel 8 seemed like a great swan song for the Brazilian legend.
The only problem was Wanderlei Silva had no intention of going quietly into the night.
A vintage performance emerged, as Silva went to battle with Stann in an epic slugfest that reminded everybody in attendance and all those watching at home what made him such an icon of the sport.
Silva stood toe-to-toe with Stann like two charging bulls until he finally dropped the former Marine with a 1-2 combo in the second round, signifying the end of the match and giving the former Pride champion yet another historic win in Japan. Silva's run as a champion in Pride while fighting in Japan made him one of the most beloved fighters in the sport.
UFC on Fuel 8 just reinforced that to anyone who wondered what Silva had left.
"I feel really happy. I don't know what's happening in Japan but it makes me feel young again," Silva said at the UFC on Fuel post-fight press conference. "I'm happy to make a good fight, Brian Stann's a tough opponent, and I'm so glad for that opportunity that the UFC and Dana White give to me."
In the past, Silva has shot down much of the talk about his potential retirement because, like any great athlete, no competitor truly wants to walk away no matter how much anyone else tries to talk him into it. It has to be a personal choice in most cases, and Silva has always had the dream to keep pushing forward.
The last time retirement talk loomed over Silva's head, he finished former Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le, and then on Saturday, he put away Stann in similar fashion.
Silva isn't shy to admit that mixed martial arts is not an easy sport to participate in for as long as he's been doing it. The rigors of training and the battles in the cage take their toll on the mind, body and spirit.
"This job is a tough job," said Silva. "I know after so many years (that) I fight, every time it's more harder to do that."
There are more years behind Wanderlei Silva than in front of him when it comes to his fighting career, and as amazing as Saturday in Japan felt for him, even he knows eventually it all has to come to a close. Everything ends and Silva knows one day he will have to call it a career—that day just isn't today.
"I fight one fight at a time right now. I feel healthy, having a couple injuries is normal, but sooner or later I'm going to need to stop this job," Silva stated. "But I'm happy getting this feeling, this energy from my fans. It makes me happy to make this show for my fans."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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