“The Axe Murderer” Should Take His Last Swings At UFC On Fuel 8

By Raphael Garcia

There comes a time when all professional athletes have to call it the end and walk away from their sports of choice. However, instead of that time being selected under their own choices, professional fighters are often ushered out of the limelight hobbled and broken in ways we can’t even see. This weekend at UFC on FUEL TV 8, fight fans may watch the last performance by one of the most recognizable figures within the world of mixed martial arts, Wanderlei Silva. Regardless of whether he wins or loses, fans will question how much “the Axe Murderer” has left.

At 34-12, Silva is well known for his violent style, which has produced 24 knockout victories. The list of names that have fallen due to Silva’s brutal blows include Quinton Jackson, Kazushi Sakuraba, Cung Le, and Guy Mezger. His best work came while a part of the Pride fighting promotion, where he holds multiple records, including the most wins in the promotion’s history with 22, most knockouts at 15, and four defenses of the middleweight title, the most by any champion in any weight class.

Unfortunately for Silva, his time on the largest stage of MMA has been marred by defeats. Currently, his record in the Ultimate Fighting Championship is 4-7, (including defeats to Vitor Belfort and Tito Ortiz in the pre-Zuffa Era.) Silva has become a frequent candidate for “freak show” types of booking by the promotion’s matchmakers, as they know that he will stand and swing at any opponent, even if that could lead to him being separated from consciousness by younger, more equipped fighters. Though he has only been knocked out twice while fighting in the Octagon during his current stint, both of those blows were vicious in every sense of the word, and Silva has accrued years of damage inside the ring and cage, the extent of which is unknown at this point. That damage could quickly be added to when Saturday’s main event on Fuel TV 8 is concluded, because Brian Stann is a heavy hitter with serious knockout power.

If Silva does lose, the UFC shouldn’t do him the disservice of cutting him the way they have with numerous fighters in recent weeks. Instead, Silva should be afforded the opportunity to retire, be immediately inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, and become as an ambassador for the promotion in both Brazil and Japan. A prominent sports figure in both of those countries, he would be a great figurehead for the company as it continues to build its franchise outside of the US borders.

Even in victory, Silva should consider taking that moment to walk away from the sport with a victory over a game opponent under his belt. Though a relatively young 36 years of age, Silva’s body has seen countless wars of attrition, far more than many fighters will see by the end of their careers. Silva will be the underdog going into this fight, and if he finds a way to pull off the upset, the Brazilian star would be best served to take that moment to call it a career.

Regardless of his sub-.500 UFC record, there isn’t any question that Wanderlei Silva belongs in any type of MMA Hall of Fame that is created. He is a legend, and doesn’t have anything left to prove. The former champion should walk away from competing no matter the outcome of this weekend’s bout, and ride off into the sport’s sunset.

UFC on FUEL TV 8: Silva vs. Stann is due to take place on March 3, 2013 at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan. Due to time differences, it will air on March 2, 2013 in the United States.

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