International Vale Tudo Championships II, September 15, 1997
This was the first, and only, time Silva had ever participated in a bare-knuckle, no-holds-barred, one-night tournament. Even though he entered the tournament with only two documented professional MMA bouts on his record, he looked every bit like the Ax Murder we all witnessed for years in Pride FC.
After the 21-year-old Wanderlei Silva destroyed Sean Bornett in the quarterfinals and Egidio Amaro de Costa in the semifinals of the second installment of the IVC tournament, Silva earned his spot in the finals against Autur Mariano.
Mariano proved to be the biggest test for Silva at this point of his young career.
The two wasted no time as they met at center ring and started to exchange punches. While nothing noteworthy landed, it set the tempo for the rest of the fight; these guys were going to keep swinging until only one was left standing.
During a flurry by both fighters about four minutes in to the fight, Mariano opened up a cut above Silva's left eye. This was not a deterrent to Silva, as he continued to come straight forward and unleash punch after punch on his now back-peddling opponent and cut Mariano above his right eye in the process.
Shortly after the cut opened, the referee stopped the action to have the ringside doctors take a look at the cuts to see if they could continue on. About a minute later, the two warriors were able to fight on.
After the action resumed, both seemed hesitant to engage. The next two minutes were spent with Silva circling and Mariano throwing a pair of leg kicks. But once Mariano threw the first punch, it was on again. Silva came out swinging and even delivered a series of headbutts that caused his own cut to open up even more.
After another lull in the action, Silva delivered a headkick that landed flush and followed it up with a few punches and yet another headbutt that caused his own cut to worsen.
With both fighters cut, battered and bruised, the pace of the fight slowed down a bit. Mariano was able to land a couple of kicks, which Silva answered with some punches and yet another headbutt that caused his cut to go from bad to downright nasty.
A few more exchanges and headbutts from Silva caused his cut to go from nasty to gruesome, Mariano started looking at the referee and pointing to Silva's eye in an apparent attempt to get the doctor involved again. The referee finally called time and had the doctor take another look at Silva's badly damaged eye.
Now I don't speak Portuguese, but it appeared as if the doctor was leaning towards stopping the fight. Silva's corner started yelling at the doctor, and it looked as if the referee stepped in to calm down the cornermen and had one finger in the air, as to say "I'll give him one more chance to finish the fight."
Again, I do not speak one bit of Portuguese, so I'm making an educated guess about the conversation based on the reaction of all the parties involved.
The action resumed once again; they quickly started exchanging heavy punches, which Silva appeared to get the better of. In another exchange, Silva used the busted up side of his face to headbutt Mariano two more times. After he looked at it closely or about a minute, the referee decided the doctor needed to take another look at Silva's cut. Much to the dismay of Silva and his corner, the doctor decided that the cut was now too bad for Silva to continue.
Autur Mariano won the match via TKO due to doctor stoppage 13:10 in to the fight.