Wanderlei Silva is not done.
His UFC on Fuel TV 8 performance against Brian Stann made that point abundantly clear, and “The Axe Murderer” now looks to the future in search of his next victim.
As a disclaimer, I sincerely believe Silva should cherish his shocking knockout victory over Stann. He should reflect on his storied career and enjoy the spotlight one last time, and he should retire.
Before the fight, fans and critics called for his retirement due to an accumulation of brain damage and an ever-deteriorating chin. Because of this, many felt Stann would decapitate the legendary Silva inside the Octagon when they finally threw down.
Silva, while he was dropped on several occasions, stood tall in the pocket and remained conscious long enough to deliver the finishing blow, a testament to his heart, determination and undying skill set.
While the ending was absolutely ideal—Silva scored the signature knockout victory in front of his adoring Japanese fans—the fact remains that he has suffered enough damage in his career, and he does not need the money or fame at this point in time.
His knockout of Stann would provide the perfect storybook ending to his historic MMA career, and he would be wise to capitalize on the moment and ride into the sunset on a chorus of cheers.
Thankfully for fight fans and violence mongers worldwide, my opinion does not matter to Silva, and he does not appear to be hanging it up anytime soon.
So who should he face next?
First off, let’s establish that Mr. Wanderlei Silva looks better at light heavyweight than he does at middleweight. He looks much healthier at 205, and he retains his full power and explosiveness, as evidenced by his stone-cold KO of Stann in Japan.
Let’s next cement the fact that Silva’s recent victory was sensational, but it does not warrant him a top-5 opponent in his next outing. He instead deserves a fringe-top-10 guy, and that fighter needs to be willing to put on a show on the feet.
Silva’s future is not about the title, it’s about fun, fan-friendly affairs, and the UFC would be crazy to match him with anyone but a stand-and-bang warrior from here on.
Enter Jimi Manuwa.
“Poster Boy” boasts a spotless 13-0 record as a professional mixed martial artist, and he is not one to shy away from a slugfest. His most recent outing against Cyrille Diabate at UFC on Fuel TV 7 ended prematurely, as Diabate was forced to quit betweens Rounds 1 and 2 with a calf injury, and Manuwa needs to keep his momentum rolling. A fight with Silva is the perfect way to do just that.
A fight with James Te Huna also makes sense for The Axe Murderer, but Te Huna showed off a tendency to shy away from a brawl in favor of a grappling match against Ryan Jimmo in his most recent Octagon appearance, and I fear he would do the same against Silva.
In addition, Manuwa possesses a nice selling point with his unblemished record, and the UFC marketing team will have no problem promoting this fight to the casual fan.
Undefeated monster to take on legendary knockout artist in a fight that promises fireworks?
Wanderlei Silva’s career lives to fight another day, and English striking phenom Jimi Manuwa provides a matchup that will have fans and critics alike frothing with anticipation.
Make it happen.
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