What’s Next For Wanderlei Silva?

Forrest-Griffin This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC on FUEL TV 8 from Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, 36-year-old MMA legend Wanderlei Silva turned back the clock with a vintage performance in the same arena he became a star in as “The Axe Murderer” scored a vicious KO on “All-American” Brian Stann, cashing as a huge +255 underdog and saving his career with the UFC. With the victory, Silva brings his overall MMA record up to 35-12-1 (1 No Contest), and since returning to the UFC in 2007 after his incredible run in PRIDE FC, Silva has a solid 4-5 record in the Octagon with wins knockout wins over Stann, Cung Le and Keith Jardine, as well as a decision victory over Michael Bisping. He’s also won five “Fight of the Night” awards as well as two “Knockout of the Night” awards during that time span. So even though Silva’s getting up there in age, he’s a star, and one of the best fighters to ever play the game. So what’s next for “The Axe Murderer”? Here are five possible opponents for Silva, who says he will be fighting at 205 pounds from now on. FORREST GRIFFIN The former UFC light heavyweight champion has been sitting on the sidelines since a ‘Fight of the Night’ victory over Tito Ortiz last summer nursing a knee injury, but when Griffin returns he will need a big-name fight in his return. And there’s no bigger name than Silva, who could fight Griffin in the co-main event of any UFC pay-per-view. Griffin vs. Silva is a very intriguing matchup between two of the UFC light heavyweight division’s longest-tenured veterans. On the one hand, Griffin is a huge 205er and a smothering grinder who could take Silva to the mat and wrestle him to a decision victory. He’s also tough, although his chin is definitely cracking. But if he can stop the takedowns and the fight stays standing, Silva would be at a huge advantage with his incredibly powerful and accurate strikes. I don’t see this fight being a hard sell at all. It’s just a great fight all around between two legends and there’s no doubt in my mind that it has the potential to be not just “Fight of the Night” of whatever card its on, but possibly even “Fight of the Year.” CHAEL SONNEN Although Sonnen is fighting Jon Jones at UFC 159 for the UFC light heavyweight championship, I think most can agree that he has no business being in that title fight and only got the chance to do so because the UFC wants to sell pay-per-views. If Sonnen loses the fight, like most expect him to, then he’ll be looking at two-straight losses to Jones and Anderson Silva. Despite the fact he’s a huge asset due to his ability to talk up a fight, he couldn’t possibly be in title contention any longer with another L on his record. Going up against Silva, a guy who Sonnen has bad mouthed in the past, you know it’s going to be an absolute war and the fans are going to go home happy. And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing for the UFC so do not be surprised at all if this is the matchup that’s made by Joe Silva. VITOR BELFORT We all remember the classic fight between Belfort and Silva back at the original UFC Brazil in 1998, when Belfort ran across the cage, blitzed Silva with a brutal and fast barrage of punches, finishing off the 21-year-old Silva in just 44 seconds. The two of them were supposed to meet in a rematch at middleweight last year at UFC 147 after they coached the first season of TUF Brazil, but Belfort broke his hand and the fight never materialized. But now, with both guys coming off of brutal KO wins over Stann and Silva, respectively, Silva and Belfort II would seem to make sense. Of course at this moment in time Belfort has a fight lined up at UFC on FX 8 against Luke Rockhold, but if Rockhold for some reason gets injured and has to pull out of the fight (he has pulled out of many fights with injuries before), then Silva would be the perfect replacement opponent. DAN HENDERSON Silva and Henderson have already fought twice, splitting a pair of fights in PRIDE with Silva decisioning Henderson at PRIDE 12 and Henderson knocking Silva out cold at PRIDE 33. A few years ago this fight wouldn’t have made any sense because Henderson ended the second fight in such vicious fashion, but now, with both fighters catching their second winds yet seemingly out of the title mix, it’s possible they could be matched up for a trilogy match. Henderson vs. Silva would be guaranteed violence between two of the best fighters to ever compete in mixed martial arts. If the UFC is having a hard time finding matchups for either guy because of timing and/or availability or because of certain guys not wanting to fight certain others, then this rubber match would be an easy fix, and an easy sell to fans, too. RASHAD EVANS Evans is coming off of two-straight losses to Jon Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira that have pushed him out of the light heavyweight title picture, so a fight against Silva isn’t as far-fetched as it may have seemed a few years ago. And I think it’d be a fun little scrap if it does happen. Obviously Evans would have a big wrestling advantage in this fight but Silva does have an underrated (though underused) ground game, so it would be interesting to see what would happen if the fight hit the floor. But in the standup it’s another story. Sure, Evans has great boxing and footwork, but he did absolutely nothing against Nogueira and if he just stands in front of Silva, he’s going to get his face punched. This would be a fight between two sure-fire UFC Hall of Famers, so how could anyone complain about it?

Written by Adam Martin.

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