UFC 147: Power Ranking Wanderlei Silva's 10 Best Fights

Riley Kontek@@BigRIlesMMAFeatured ColumnistJune 13, 2012

UFC 147: Power Ranking Wanderlei Silva's 10 Best Fights

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    Wanderlei Silva will find himself in a fight a week from Saturday, as the popular Brazilian takes on rival Rich Franklin. Both previously fought at UFC 99, where Franklin won by unanimous decision.

    Silva has had a storied MMA career, which saw him dominate Pride and put on exciting fights wherever he went. He is a fan-favorite wherever he goes, as he has fought in such countries as Germany, Japan, Brazil and the United States.

    Here are Silva's best 10 fights leading up to UFC 147

Pride 12: Silva vs. Dan Henderson

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    Pride 12 served as the first of two encounters between Wanderlei Silva and Dan Henderson. Lucky for Silva, he won the first fight by unanimous decision (lost the second fight by knockout).

    It was a hard-fought battle, showcasing two of the sport's future legends. It showed off the skills both men had and was a good fight.

Pride Shockwave 2005: Silva vs. Ricardo Arona

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    Wanderlei Silva and Ricardo Arona first met at Pride Final Conflict 2005, where Arona edged Silva by unanimous decision in the Middleweight Grand Prix semifinal. Already the middleweight champion, this made a rematch for the title necessary.

    The two fought this important match hard and smart. It turned out to be a chess match, with Silva getting the slight edge over Arona in a close match. Silva retained his belt and continued to build his legacy as one of the best ever.

Pride Critical Countdown Absolute: Silva vs. Kazuyuki Fujita

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    This epic beatdown by Wanderlei Silva on Kazuyuki Fujita was more of an impressive win for Wanderlei than a "great fight." The background here is that Fedor Emelianenko dropped out of the Openweight Grand Prix, allowing entry to Silva, who would be fighting men much larger than himself. 

    The middleweight Silva took on a 250-plus-pound Fujita, who had the striking to hang with Silva. Silva didn't take the size difference into account, knocking out Fujita in just over nine minutes by punches and soccer kicks.

    It was a huge win (no pun intended), showing Silva could hang with the big boys.

UFC 84: Silva vs. Keith Jardine

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    Silva's UFC 84 meeting with Keith Jardine was an important fight at this point in his career, as he was on a three-fight losing streak, with two losses coming by knockout.

    Silva came out in his typical aggressive fashion. He bull-rushed Jardine with power strikes, eventually dropping Jardine. From there, he held him down and brutalized him with ground-and-pound that rendered Jardine unconscious. 

    Not only was it the "Knockout of the Night," but it also earned "Knockout of the Year" honors.

Pride 17: Silva vs. Kazushi Sakuraba

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    Kazushi Sakuraba and Wanderlei Silva met many times in their respective careers, but their second meeting was the most important one. On the line was the Pride middleweight title, which Silva won in the fight.

    Silva battered Sakuraba for the first 10-minute round. It was so bad, that the doctor stopped the fight in-between rounds. That broken clavicle earned Silva his first Pride title and provided fans with a glimpse into what he was capable of.

Pride Final Conflict 2003: Silva vs. Rampage Jackson I

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    Wanderlei Silva's first fight with arch-nemesis Rampage Jackson was one of his best career fights. The hard-hitting Brazilian unleashed a flurry of knees that dazed and finished Jackson, earning Silva the win.

    The win earned Silva the 2003 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix title. In this tournament, he defeated Kazushi Sakuraba by knockout, Hidehiko Yoshida by decision and Jackson.

    It was an impressive tournament showing by Silva and one of many memorable moments from Pride.

UFC 139: Silva vs. Cung Le

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    In Silva's most recent outing, he faced off against fellow striker Cung Le. This fight is significant because had Silva lost, he would have been forced to retire by Dana White.

    Silva took some of Le's best strikes and stayed in the fight. Eventually, Le gassed out from the volume of strikes he threw and Silva smelled the blood. Silva unleashed a vintage assault on Le, finishing him with knees and punches.

    It was UFC 139's "Fight of the Night."

Pride Final Conflict 2003: Silva vs. Hidehiko Yoshida

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    In the same tournament and night which Silva knocked out Rampage Jackson for the first time, Silva put on the "Fight of the Year" in his unanimous decision win over Hidehiko Yoshida.

    This win capped off a legendary night for Silva, as Nov. 9, 2003 is a date Silva's fans hold dear. It is a night he won two incredible fights to take the Middleweight Grand Prix title.

UFC 79: Silva vs. Chuck Liddell

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    UFC 79 finally brought fans a fight they had been dying to see for years, when Silva took on Chuck Liddell. Thought of as the two best fighters ever in their division, both men put on amazing performances.

    This is the only loss on the list for Silva, but it makes the list regardless. The fight was the "Fight of the Night" and "Fight of the Year." Silva and Liddell threw punches in bunches and tried to knock each other's heads off.

    It was a great return fight for Wanderlei Silva, who had not fought in the UFC for seven years previous to that.

Pride 28: Silva vs. Rampage Jackson II

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    The defining win of Wanderlei Silva's career came at Pride 28, when Silva beat arch-nemesis Rampage Jackson for the second time in a row. This win left us all with a picture that we will never forget.

    After a hard-fought match by both men, Silva got Jackson in the Muay Thai clinch. This spelled the end for Jackson, as he ate a number of knees to the head. Silva knocked him out cold, allowing his limp body to crash through the ropes.

    This was one of the most epic things Silva ever did, earning him a spot in highlight reels for years to come. Oh yeah, and it was a marvelous overall fight as well.