Over the course of almost 14 years, Wanderlei Silva has amassed a very impressive record of 32-10-1 with one No Contest through 44 fights and on Saturday night, Silva will look to improve that record against British striker Michael Bisping at UFC 110.
However, Silva’s impressive record should be considered anything but impressive recently, with five of Silva’s ten losses having come over his last six fights.
Once considered one of the meanest men on the planet during his PRIDE FC days, Wanderlei Silva is in a big-time rut and if he can’t find a way to get out of it soon, it'll be clear that Silva's best days are far behind him.
In PRIDE, Silva was feared for his ruthless Muay Thai skills and exceptional knock out power. He’s remembered for going to war many times with PRIDE legends while coming out with many highlight reel knockouts, looking almost untouched in the process.
He held the PRIDE Middleweight title for over five years, defending it from the likes of Rampage Jackson and Ricardo Arona. And in 2004, Sherdog even ranked him as their fighter of the year.
But since Silva’s re-emergence in the UFC in December 2007, he’s looked anything but the dominant fighter that once lived up to the nickname “The Axe Murder.”
Silva (who was already coming off back-to-back losses to Mirko Cro Cop and Dan Henderson in Pride FC) arrived back in the UFC octagon with plenty of fanfare and lots of hype surrounding the belief that Silva could potentially dominate the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division.
In his first fight back in the UFC since losing to Tito Ortiz in 2000, Silva was matched up against former UFC Light Heavyweight champion, Chuck Liddell at UFC 79 in a clash that fans had waited years to see.
Both Silva and Liddell arguably put on one of the best fights of the year (their fight won Fight of the Night honours) but Silva ultimately lost in his debut by unanimous decision.
Next, Silva went on to show UFC fans what he was capable of at UFC 84 after completely dismantling Keith Jardine by knockout only 36 seconds into their fight.
However, before things could get rolling any further, Silva suffered a devastating knockout loss to a vengeful Rampage Jackson seven months later at UFC 92, and then another unanimous decision loss to Rich Franklin six months after that at UFC 99.
That left Silva with a 1-3 record into his new UFC career.
Combining Silva’s last ten fights (which date back to 2005) Silva has compiled a 4-6 record, suffering three knockouts and three unanimous decision losses.
If you take out those last 10 fights for Silva, his record stands at: 28-4-1 1 NC, a far cry from where it stands now.
These numbers don’t lie: they are anything but the dominant ones UFC fans expected Silva to have when he was brought back into the UFC mix.
To Silva’s credit, the fighters Silva has lost to recently are considered top calibre MMA fighters and so his record shouldn’t be criticized as harsh as it could be, but Silva was the one who always stepped up to beat high-level talent.
He wasn’t considered the best fighter on the planet for nothing. And if you can't beat the best, how can you be considered the best?
After the Franklin fight, Silva underwent facial surgery to repair his nose, which had been broken several times since his second Cro Cop fight, and scar tissue.
At the same time, Silva felt it was wise to move down to the UFC’s Middleweight division after realizing that many of the UFC’s Light Heavyweights were just now too big for the Brazilian striker.
But even then, after successful face surgery, and a change in weight class, one has to wonder how much Wanderlei Silva really has left in the tank.
In his fight against Franklin, in particular, Silva seemed to tire quickly and was obviously sluggish by the end of the second round. Even in his most recent fight against Jackson, Silva never looked completely comfortable inside the octagon against an obviously bigger opponent.
How will Silva be perceived in the eyes of fight fans if he loses in Australia on Saturday night at UFC 110?
If Silva loses to Bisping, he’ll fall even further down the rankings, while in a division that is a complete rankings nightmare.
With fighters like Nate Marquardt, Chael Sonnen and Vitor Belfort all on the sidelines awaiting to see how Demian Maia fares against Anderson Silva at UFC 112, you have to wonder in matchups against any of these well respected fighters, how Silva would even fare, especially if he losses in dominating fashion at the hands of Bisping on Saturday night.
A loss to Bisping would be a devastating blow to any hope of Silva one day competing for a UFC belt, and Silva knows it. If he comes out slow and doesn’t win in impressive fashion to shut up his critics, how relevant will Silva become in the world of mixed martial arts?
He’s already lost the mystique of being dominant; he’ll also lose the mantle of being a top UFC fighter and be considered over the hill.
UFC 110 will mark the first time the UFC will be in Australia, but it may also mark the last time Wanderlei Silva is considered The Axe Murderer.
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