Legendary Brazilian fighter Wanderlei Silva retired on Friday, and maybe because the news cycle was dominated by the domestic violence woes of the UFC and its fighters Thiago Silva and Anthony “Rumble” Johnson, the impact of the notion that “The Axe Murderer” was leaving the cage forever was dulled by those distractions. If so, that’s a shame. It’s a shame because yet another member of the sport’s elite class and pioneer of all things ultra-violent will now be riding into the sunset, and for sure the noteworthy-ness of Silva’s hanging up of the gloves deserves a bit more.
Silva, you see, was the first fighter to encapsulate pure devastation, distilling such destruction through what always seemed like rage and doling it out via the deadliest of knees, kicks and fists. Sure, these last few years have slowed him, and made him a kinder, more gentle figure outside of the cage, and his image may have been tarnished by his ridiculous back-and-forth with the Nevada State Athletic Commission (which began with him fleeing a surprise urine test and ended with his attorney trying to dance around the law), but back in the day Silva was fierce – fiercer than anyone in PRIDE FC and certainly fiercer than anyone in the UFC.
He was like death, personified.
Of course, the Japanese loved him, and inexplicably loved seeing him kill their fellow countrymen.
Silva’s countrymen loved him – and why wouldn’t they? He came up through the budding Brazilian scene in the mid-90s, back before there was ever a Zuffa to bring the UFC back from the brink. It was from that scene that UFC matchmaker John Peretti plucked him, and fans of that era definitely remember the reputation he brought with him in the cage.
So pour a little of your 40 oz. for the Axe Murderer gone. We’ve seen a ton of great fights in the last 20 years, and so many of them were his.