Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva. There was a time when the mere mention of his name caused many a fighter to begin sweating in fear. That time has long since passed.
What remains is a man who leaves everything he has in the cage. He lives for the thrill of combat and the roar of the crowd. A Roman gladiator reborn for our times.
With his UFC 110 clash with Michael Bisping almost upon us, many MMA fans are left wondering what is next for Wanderlei Silva. That all depends on the outcome of his clash with Bisping.
It is widely known that Silva has struggled since re-entering the UFC after his reign of terror in PRIDE. Many believed the Wanderlei of old was back after his destruction of Keith Jardine. Alas, this was not so, as in his very next fight he was brutally knocked out by Rampage Jackson. Silva rebounded nicely, losing an extremely close decision in a three- round war with Rich Franklin.
This brings us to his looming fight with Bisping. Wanderlei desperately needs not just a win, but a convincing win, to stay relevant in the UFC.
A convincing win over a former contender puts him in to the upper tier of UFC middle weights. If Wanderlei retains the power he was known for after dropping down a weight class, then he will be a handful for any fighter in the MW division.
Is he a threat to Anderson Silva? Maybe. But he will need to recapture all of his PRIDE magic and brutality in order to do take down The Spider.
However, if Bisping wins, it may be time for Wanderlei to retire. His career has spanned 44 fights, and he has suffered some brutal knockouts and grueling wars. For a man who thrives on the rush of combat, retirement must seem worse than death, but for his own sake it must be considered.
He has been through more wars than almost any fighter in history. He personifies the saying, "the best defense is a good offense." Instead of blocking, he will often swing back, as he seeks an exciting ending no matter the cost.
This has led him to many, many victories. Thirty-two of them in fact. But even in victory, Wanderlei often took a large amount of punishment. How much longer can his body hold up?
As an MMA fan, the day Wanderlei Silva retires will be one of the darkest for me in my time following the sport. A true legend, whose policy of fighting anyone, any time has given us some of the greatest fights this sport has ever seen, Silva has thrilled countless numbers of fans with his aggressive, in-your-face style. But all good things must come to an end.
So if this is to be your last fight, then give us what you always do. Everything you have and more. Your entire heart. And know that we, the fans, can not possibly love you more than we already do.