Wanderlei Silva is not ready to call it a career. | Photo: Daniel Herbertson
Mixed martial arts can be cruel to its legends. One needs look no further than the swan song appearances of former UFC light heavyweight champions Chuck Liddell and Randy Couture for proof.
Liddell was knocked cold by Rich Franklin at UFC 115, his third consecutive brutal loss within the confines of the Octagon. While Couture aged more gracefully than his former rival, his final appearance in the cage resulted in a highlight-reel knockout courtesy of a Lyoto Machida front kick at UFC 129.
When Wanderlei Silva suffered his sixth loss in eight fights to Chris Leben in July, many began to wonder if it was time for “The Axe Murderer” to call it a career, as well. After all, four of those defeats were knockouts, calling Silva’s long-term health into question.
UFC President Dana White was one of those people hinting that the wildly popular Brazilian should consider retirement. However, Silva has not heeded those concerns, as he is set for a showdown with former Strikeforce champion Cung Le in the co-main event of UFC 139 on Saturday.
Silva took things a step further during a pre-fight conference call on Wednesday, saying his bout with Le at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., would not be his last.
“I don’t have a date [for retirement] in my mind,” said the former Pride Fighting Championships standout. “I think my performance is going to make me fight again.”
Silva pointed to the recent UFC on Fox 1 main event as an example of how anyone can get caught with a punch in MMA.
“What happened [against Leben] can happen to anybody. You can’t tell Cain Velasquez he has to retire now because he got knocked out [by Junior dos Santos]. Anyone can get knocked out early; one punch early finishes the fight,” Silva said.
Le has been out of action since June 2010, when he finished Scott Smith with a kick to the body in the second round of their encounter at Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Werdum.” The 39-year-old San Shou specialist has earned all seven of his victories by knockout or technical knockout. Le possesses some of the most creative striking in the sport today, and Silva has made it a point to prepare accordingly.
“He has a unique style,” Silva said. “I saw his tape and [studied] his game. It’s hard to find guys that fight like him. We brought in some guys from tae kwon do and some other martial arts [backgrounds] and tried to make a game plan for a fight with him.”
Ultimately, Silva plans to do what he always does: entertain those who came to watch him fight.
“I think it will be a great match; we have a standup style,” he said. “I hope that will make for a great show for the fans in San Jose.”