Wanderlei “The Axe Murder” Silva called it a career late last week, retiring after eighteen years as a professional mixed martial artist. Unfortunately for Silva and his die hard fan base, his retirement was met with very little fan fare by the MMA community. After avoiding a random drug test and being hit with a lifetime ban by the Nevada Athletic Commission, fans now look at Silva as a martyr in the new age of MMA. While Silva’s recent actions do warrant a strict and poignant response, fans also need to remember the great things he did for the sport. Silva was must-watch TV whenever he fought. It was virtually guaranteed that his fights would end in a violent fashion or be an extremely entertaining fifteen to twenty-five minutes. As for those bouts, there are plenty that stick out in each fan’s mind I believe that there are five in particular that perfectly exemplify who Wanderlei Silva was as a fighter. Take a look below to find out.
5. Wanderlei Silva vs. Keith Jardine at UFC 84
Wanderlei Silva was in desperate need of a win heading into his UFC 84 bout against Keith Jardine. “The Axe Murderer” was in the midst of a three fight losing streak, including a unanimous decision loss in his UFC debut to Chuck Liddell. What happened in Silva’s bout with Jardine showed Silva fans that the Brazilian still had that killer instinct. Thirty-six seconds was all it took for Silva to dispatch of the Jackson’s MMA product. The finish was as brutal as any knockout on Silva’s resume as he delivered multiple unanswered blows while in the mount position over his opponent. One thing was certain after this fight: the Axe Murderer wasn’t going anywhere.
4. Wanderlei Silva vs. Kazushi Sakuraba I at PRIDE 13
The first of three meetings between Wanderlei Silva and Kazushi Sakuraba was easily the biggest moment in the Brazilian’s career leading up to that point. Sakuraba was an absolute superstar in Japan and a win over him was huge exposure for any fighter. Silva didn’t just pick up a win over Sakuraba, he absolutely starched the Japanese MMA legend. Silva’s signature knees and soccer kicks were on display as he picked up the TKO victory in just one minute and thirty-eight seconds. Not only did this bout do wonders for Silva’s popularity in Japan, it also helped him explode onto the scene with American audiences.
3. Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell at UFC 79
While Wanderlei Silva vs. Chuck Liddell may have happened a few years too late, the bout more than delivered for fight fans world wide. Silva and Liddell threw down for fifteen minutes in what was easily the best fight of 2007. Silva ended up losing the bout via unanimous decision, but provided the sport of MMA with its version of Ali vs. Frazier.
2. Wanderlei Silva vs. Brian Stann at UFC Fight Night Japan
In what would be Wanderlei Silva’s swan song as an MMA fighter, “The Axe Murder” left a lasting impression on fans with his two round classic with former WEC champion Brian Stann. The entirety of the bout was a back and forth test of will as both fighters were wobbled, dropped, and nearly finished. Silva likely lost the first round but that didn’t matter come the second. Silva caught Stann with a huge right hand and followed the former Marine to the floor with multiple punches to turn his lights out. The fight was vintage Silva and provided newer fans with a glimpse of what made Silva so loved among the MMA community.
1. Wanderlei Silva vs. Rampage Jackson II at PRIDE 28
If you’re ever sitting around with your buddies who don’t watch MMA and want to know more about this “Wanderlei Silva” guy, the Brazilian’s second fight with Rampage Jackson is the one tape you need to show them. This fight won multiple Fight of the Year awards in 2004 and featured one of MMA’s most iconic finishes. After a back and forth first round which ended with Jackson mounting Silva and nearly ending the fight, Silva battled back in the second and unleashed a bevy of knees from the Muay Thai clinch that left “Rampage” sleeping and hanging from the ropes. The fight’s ending was the epitome of violence and is everything you could ever need to know about the MMA legend known as Wanderlei Silva.