Earlier this week, our own Jim Genia reported Bellator’s newest signing: “The Axe Murderer” himself, Wanderlei Silva.
The Brazilian fighting legend, pictured above with Bellator President Scott Coker, is said to have inked a “multi-year, multi fight” contract, per the promotion’s press release. A former PRIDE 200 lb titlist who last fought Brian Stann at a UFC Japan event (earning a memorable TKO victory), it’s unclear what the 39 year old Silva brings has left, but he’ll certainly add a little glamour to his new digs.
As Jim noted, Silva is still on suspension; so we won’t see him in the cage for a little while. Still, we certainly can “speculate on who and how well he’ll fight when the time comes.”
Here’s a list of three possible opponents:
- Emelianenko Fedor. Yes, Fedor. Sure, I know, he’s a heavyweight and Silva was (mostly) a middleweight in his most recent UFC run. Yes, I know Fedor has made his comeback under the Rizin banner, under Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Guys, none of that matters. As was mentioned in the same Bellator press release, part of Silva’s legacy in PRIDE was in his fighting heavyweights like Mark Hunt, Mirko Cro Cop, and Kazuyuki Fujita. Fedor’s team has already discussed a co-promotion with Bellator MMA and Rizin. “Personally, I’d love to see a Bellator-Rizin co-promotion like they did [in September] with the Dynamite! event,” Jerry Millen, a Rizin official and longtime friend of Fedor, told ESPN back in January. “Have a ring and a cage in the same building again.” Why not put two legends in that cage? Even if Fedor is coming off a loss by then, it works.
- Phil Baroni. This one’s kind of a long shot, but surprise! Former UFC middleweight contender Baroni and Silva have a bit of a history. Baroni famously tackled and threw a few shots at Wand back at PRIDE 31 back in 2006. (The brawl was following Mark Coleman’s win over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua.) The 39 year old Baroni hasn’t had much success in the cage of late, but is said to be staying in shape. He recently had a fight scheduled for Chinese promotion RFC, but the event was cancelled. Could the colorful “New York Bad Ass” talk his way into a showdown ten years in the making?
- Chael Sonnen. This one is a natural. Both guys hate each other, and skirmished repeatedly at The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Unfortunately, both guys are suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission — but as MMA Fighting recently reported, Sonnen’s suspension ends this Summer. Manager Mike Roberts says Sonnen’s still in the mix: “If the right fight and offer come along Chael will jump at the chance to fight again,” Roberts said. “He is as competitive as they come.” If Coker is competitive with his purse strings, why not?