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Title: Pride Middleweight Champion
Successful Defenses: Four
Wins/Losses while champion: 14-4-1
Why he ranks 10th: Wanderlei Silva ranks above Chuck Liddell because Silva also won a Middleweight Grand Prix while he was champion.
Details of reign
Wanderlei Silva faced Kazushi Sakuraba for the Pride Middleweight Championship at Pride 17 on November 3, 2001. Pride Fighting Championship did not previously have this title and the winner would be the first person to hold the belt. Note that Pride’s Middleweight-class was equivalent to the UFC’s Light Heavyweight division. After the first round, which lasted ten minutes under Pride rules, the doctor examined Sakuraba and decided to end the fight. Silva became the inaugural Pride Middleweight Champion.
Silva’s next bout was at Pride 18, but was a non-title fight. He faced Alexander Otsuka and again won when he injured his opponent enough that the doctor stopped the fight in the third round.
He made his first official title defense at Pride 19 against Kiyoshi Tamura. Silva picked kept his belt with a knockout punch.
Silva fought again on the next event, Pride 20, against Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic. The bout was not for the title, but was under special rules that stipulated it would be five rounds and if at the end there was no winner it would automatically be a draw. It did indeed go all five rounds and no winner was declared.
He had another non-title fight at Pride Shockwave where he knocked out Tatsuya Iwasaki just over one minute into the fight.
The second official title defense was at Pride 23 against Hiromitsu Kanehara. The fight was stopped in the first round when Kanehara was considered too injured to keep fighting.
Wanderlei Silva was next in Pride’s 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix tournament. In the opening round at Pride Total Elimination 2003, he had a rematch with the man he beat to get his belt: Kazushi Sakuraba. Silva finished him this time with a knockout punch.
The semifinal fight was at Pride Final Conflict 2003 and after going all fifteen minutes Silva got a unanimous victory over Hidehiko Yoshida.
The final fight was on the same night and against Quinton Jackson. Silva won the tournament when he used vicious knees to finish off Jackson.
Silva would fight yet another non-title match at Pride Bushido Two and knocked out Ikuhisa Minowa in just over a minute.
His next match was at Pride Final Conflict 2004 and was again not for his belt. Nonetheless with some brutal stomps his opponent Yuki Kondo was knocked out in the first round.
Disregarding draws and no contests, Silva had won 15 fights in a row when he made his third official title defense at Pride 28. In a rematch from his grand prix final, Silva faced Quinton Jackson and yet again got a knockout win using his knees.
At Pride Shockwave 2004 his winning streak came to an end, but the fight was not for his title. After three rounds Silva lost a split decision to Mark Hunt.
Silva would next attempt to repeat his tournament victory in Pride’s next Middleweight Grand Prix. At Pride Total Elimination 2005 he fought in the opening round against a fighter he had defeated in the semifinals of the previous tournament: Hidehiko Yoshida. Silva won a split decision this time to move on.
His next fight was a quarterfinal matchup at Pride Total Elimination 2005 as this was a larger tournament than the one before. Silva knocked out Kazahiro Nakamura to advance.
In the semifinal fight at Pride Final Conflict 2005 Silva lost an unanimous decision to Ricardo Arona and was knocked out of the tournament. The tournament fights were not for the title, however.
Arona did not win the final fight of the tournament, but his victory over Silva did earn him a title shot. Silva’s fourth official title defense was at Pride Shockwave 2005 and their rematch again went the distance. This time it was a split decision and Silva was declared the winner.
Silva was next given a slot in an Openweight Grand Prix quarterfinal matchup at Pride Critical Countdown Absolute. He earned a knockout victory over Kazuyuki Fajita to go to the semifinals.
His semifinal fight was a rematch with Mirko Cro Cop, who he had fought to a draw years ago. Silva ended up on the wrong side of a highlight-reel knockout head kick and was eliminated.
Silva lost his title at Pride 33 on February 24, 2007. Dan Henderson rocked Silva with a knockout punch to take the belt.