Fans often bemoan the fact that fighters are mortal, as they often want the “old version of fighter x” to return. Wanderlei Silva is one of those fighters whom fans desperately want to return to form. On March 2 on UFC on Fuel TV 8, the 36-year-old Brazilian will take on Brian Stann in Saitama, Japan. The fight really should be Silva’s swansong; however, unless Silva is brutally knocked out, it won’t be. Silva is simply never going to be the brawler he once was. Occasionally, Silva will connect with his trademark flurries of offense, but there is a difference nowadays. In PRIDE, those flurries would finish the fight. Now, opponents like Rich Franklin are able to weather those storms and coast to victories.
Stann is a competent boxer who understands distance, footwork and head-movement. He is a power-puncher to boot. We have seen with guys like Quinton Jackson and Chris Leben that Silva can no longer recover from a shot like before, like he used to in PRIDE. That is one thing fans often forget about the “old” Silva: he took a lot of damage and was dropped quite often. However, he would recover faster than lightning, and was able to dish out his own punishment immediately. Now, when Silva’s chin is touched, he doesn’t get back up.
Silva will have a moment or two in the fight, no doubt. For a while, he’ll show us glimpses of what he once was. He had a three-minute flurry in the fight with Franklin, and he beat Cung Le down. But those flashes of violence are few and far between. Against a seasoned, veteran power-puncher like Stann, he can’t compete over the course of five rounds.
Stann will batter and bruise Silva and win the bout. At the end, nothing will have changed. The fans will all know it is probably time for Silva to retire. But it will take a strong push from Dana White to actually make that happen. Otherwise, Silva will be content to extend his career until the point that he is brutally knocked out once again. An end like that would be sad for such a beloved fighter.