Wanderlei Silva’s retirement certainly appears to be coming to an end, and it’s going to be fascinating to see what his return will mean to the sport. Particularly if an all-star bout with Fedor Emelianenko comes together.
Yes, for sometime now, it seemed clear that Silva wanted to fight again. But, since he was dealing with a lifetime suspension from the Nevada Commission, and was still under contract with the UFC, facilitating that wasn’t going to be easy. Now, however, Silva is eligible to apply for a license next year, and his legal issues with the UFC have been resolved. So what now?
Well, recently the 39 year-old spoke with Combate, and while doing so, Silva reported that he’s already been in talks with Rizin Fighting Federation. “The Axe Murderer” also said they’re “flirting” with Bellator. Silva made it clear that he really wants to fight in Japan, which makes sense, as that’s where he became a MMA God while fighting for Pride.
The subject of Fedor Emelianenko also came up, and here’s what Silva had to say about fighting “The Last Emperor” (quote via MMA Fighting.com):
“There’s a possibility of fighting Fedor, who is an opponent I would really like to fight. I’m not just talking, but can’t be the first one, right?” said Silva. “Now that I haven’t fought in two years, I can’t get him right away. I need to do some fights first, get my rhythm back, and when the promotion thinks it’s time and I feel I’m in a good rhythm, I would really want to test myself against him, for sure. I’ve fought the best in the world but him. I would really like to test myself against him. I don’t have anything against Fedor, but I would like to test myself and see how it goes.”
There you have it. Now that’s a fight a ton of old school fans would love to see. But, how would it resonate with mainstream and new fans?
While casual fans may not be overly familiar with Fedor, and they may not have dug through the Fight Pass library to watch Silva’s greatest hits, it wouldn’t be hard to hype this fight. After all, we’re talking about two of the greatest fighters in MMA history. In fact, one could argue that in terms of match-ups outside the UFC right now, and without bringing up Brock Lesnar…this could be the biggest fight to be made.
So, for a promotion like Rizin, which is trying to reboot MMA’s glory days in Japan, this fight could be huge. If Viacom attached themselves to it in some way, and they surely would, it might boost both Bellator and Spike.
Would it be the biggest fight of say 2017? Probably not. Would it shift the MMA landscape significantly? No. But it would be a big one, and if it helped Rizin get rolling in Japan, then things could get interesting.