Few know Wanderlei Silva (left) better than longtime mentor Rafael Cordeiro (right). | Photo: Daniel Herbertson
After being chopped down in only 27 seconds by Chris Leben at UFC 132 on July 2, Wanderlei Silva was faced with a flood of talk regarding his possible retirement. “The Axe Murderer” has not spoken publicly since the event, choosing to spend time in his native Brazil before returning to his gym in Las Vegas.
According to longtime trainer and mentor Rafael Cordeiro, Silva plans to compete again despite losses in six of his past eight fights.
“The decision to keep fighting or not is something very personal,” Cordeiro told Sherdog.com. “No one can tell you when to retire because no one knows what’s going on in your mind or heart. You have to think about the human side of the situation and Wanderlei’s desire to fight, which he has always had with him.
“In my opinion, he has to keep fighting,” he added. “He has the will to be competitive for years to come. He never thought about quitting fighting because of that loss [to Leben]. That’s not a champion’s philosophy. The champion stands up again after a loss.”
UFC President Dana White already indicated his belief that Silva should consider retiring. Cordeiro, who runs the Kings MMA academy, does not believe White’s opinion should be accepted as fact.
“White can have that position, but Wanderlei has the fire [to fight],” he said. “The fans and his training partners feed him. I still see a lot of good things happening for him.”
From a tactical point of view, Cordeiro remains understandably unsatisfied. Everyone, he admits, was disappointed in Silva’s result against Leben. However, he did not view the knockout as all that unexpected, especially with the former Pride Fighting Championships titleholder coming off a 17-month layoff from reconstructive knee surgery.
“He felt the lack of fighting rhythm,” Cordeiro said. “I believe it was crucial in that moment. He didn’t do what we planned for and worked on for the fight against Leben. Wanderlei was prepared and in shape, with good jiu-jitsu, wrestling and muay Thai. Unfortunately, he got caught by that punch [and lost] in only 27 seconds, but it could have occurred 14 minutes into the fight, too. That’s something that can happen to anyone; that could have happened to Leben. Wanderlei needs rhythm to get back to the top.”
Cordeiro also pointed to the fact that Silva was fighting in Las Vegas -- where he lives and runs a gym -- as a significant factor in the defeat.
“He was distracted during the fight,” Cordeiro said. “To see the arena crowded, to hear his entrance music again and to see people behind him was awesome, but it distracted him. He’s human like anyone else. People must understand that. He was looking forward to getting the knockout and dedicating it to the fans and his family. It shook him up a bit.”