View Full Version : “The Axe Murderer” Looks to Chop Rampage Down Again

12-24-2008, 05:38 PM



Wanderlei Silva – “The Axe Murderer” Looks to Chop Rampage Down AgainBy Thomas Gerbasi

"Despite the nickname “The Axe Murderer”, Wanderlei Silva is one of the most gracious and affable fighters in mixed martial arts today or on any day. Yet even with a Hall of Fame-worthy resume and the adulation of fans around the world, Silva is only human, and subject to the same questions and doubts anyone can have.

So after a three fight skid in 2006-2007 that saw him lose three fights in a row (albeit to Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, and Mirko Cro Cop), the Brazilian was feeling more pressure than usual before his May bout with Keith Jardine.

“Too much,” Silva told UFC.com. “Losing three times is too much. It was a hard time in my life. I never had this before and it was a very tough moment for me. I had a lot of fights in my mind before and a lot of pressure.”

A loss could have crippled the career of the former PRIDE 205-pound champion. Even a lackluster win would have had people whispering that the 32-year old had seen better days as a prizefighter. And Jardine – owner of wins over Liddell and Forrest Griffin – was no joke of an opponent.

But on that night in Vegas, Silva turned the clock back and did what the greats do – he performed with his back against the wall. That meant a 36 second destruction of Jardine that sent the MGM Grand crowd into a frenzy and saw Silva jump to the top of the Octagon fence and let out an ecstatic roar that was more cathartic than showy.

“It was a great moment for me,” recalled Silva. “It was almost two years I didn’t win, and I was so happy. He (Jardine) was a very tough guy, and I knew my responsibility about the pressure. I learned a lot of lessons to give in the future.”

With the victory, Silva (32-8-1, 1 NC) had secured his first Octagon win since a 1999 knockout of Tony Petarra at UFC 20 and re-established himself in the light heavyweight pecking order, one that is seemingly getting more crowded by the minute. More importantly, it was his first victory as a Las Vegas resident, which solidified his decision to relocate to the United States.

“It’s more comfortable for me and after one year, I’m in good condition for training here,” said Silva, who has been eagerly accepted by Stateside fans who followed his exploits in Japan for years. “Every event that I go to, many people talk to me and want to take pictures. It’s a great moment for me.”

Suffice to say he’s not leaving anytime soon. In fact, he’s in the process of getting his new gym ready for its grand opening in January.

“I love it here,” he said. “I have many friends, and I’m going to open my gym in January after my fight. I’m going to have my space, with my Octagon, my machines, and I’m going to put the best equipment in the world in my gym. For all the fighters who want to have their camp here in Vegas before their match, I’m going to open my gym for them and their coaches. Or they can use my coaches, no problem. I’m going to have a kids class, a family class, and I’m going to have a different system for people who would never have contact with mixed martial arts before. This is so fun and so good, I want people to learn MMA at my camp.”

Before Silva can teach the Thai clinch to his students, he does have some business to take care of this Saturday night against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, a man he has quite a history with dating back to their PRIDE days, when Silva stopped the former UFC light heavyweight champion in their bouts in 2003 and 2004. Jackson certainly hasn’t forgotten the two devastating defeats, and he is looking for revenge at UFC 92. But Silva hasn’t let two of his most significant wins escape from his memory bank either, and he plans on making it three in a row against Rampage.

“I remember beating him so nice,” said Silva with glee. “They were very, very good fights for me, but he was a very tough guy and I know I need to train hard to fight him so I give my best every day all day.”

Taking the fight was a no-brainer for Jackson, who sees a third Silva bout as an opportunity to not only get back on the winning track after his July loss to Griffin, but to exorcise some old demons. But was there any hesitation from Silva’s end, especially considering the emphatic nature of his first two wins over Jackson?

“No, I’m here to fight with everybody,” said Silva. “I know he’s top three in the world and I’m here to fight with the best guys in the world. This is a great opportunity for me to fight with him again.”
Plus, as he’s said on a number of occasions, with the bad blood between him and Jackson, fighting him is pleasure, not business.

“I don’t like him and he don’t like me,” said Silva. “He’s my rival for years, and for me, to fight with my rivals is much better than when opponents respect you too much. We are professionals and we fight, but it’s more better to fight with some guy you don’t like. You train more, you have more motivation, and I love to fight with my big rival.”

Even on a stacked UFC 92 card with two championship bouts above it, Silva-Jackson III has taken on a life of its own among hardcore fight fans who are expecting fireworks when the bell rings. And no one’s ringing that bell louder than Silva.

“We’re going to put on the best show of the year for my fans again,” said the man who put on one of 2007’s best bouts in the last show of the year against Chuck Liddell. “I’m going to give my best, he’s going to give his best, and I told my boss (UFC President Dana White) to put my name on the check for Fight of The Night because I’m going to beat this guy and give the best show for my fans again.”

But when it’s all over, does Silva see a day when he and Jackson can sit in rocking chairs as senior citizens and reminisce about the old days as buddies?

“After this fight,” said Silva. “I’m going to invite him (Jackson) to train in my gym.”