Wanderlei Silva stunned the bookmakers in his return to Japan, turning out a vintage knockout over the favored Brian Stann in the main event of UFC on Fuel TV 8.
Prior to the bout, many pundits predicted that “The Axe Murderer” might have been facing his final in-cage appearance. A winner in just three of his previous 10 fights, Silva appeared to be tailor-made to fall at the hands of the hard-punching Stann. Instead, the Brazilian turned back the clock at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, stopping Stann with a second-round explosion of violence.
“I don’t know what happens here in Japan, man. The fans just give me a lot of energy,” Silva told Fox Sports following his victory. “I’m so happy to make all my fans around the world happy. That’s why I fight. I fight for you. I’m here because of you and my God, so thanks for the great support.”
Though Silva would seal the deal in second round, his chances at victory were touch-and-go at best in the opening frame, as both men hit the canvas in a wild first five minutes.
“I got out of the strategy in the first round a little bit, because he’s a tough guy. He was so close to beating me,” Silva said. “After I finished the first round, my coach told me to [throw] the right hand, and it happened.”
Silva’s right clipped Stann perfectly as the American lunged forward, taking away his balance and creating an opening for “The Axe Murderer” to land a glancing left that sent Stann reeling to the canvas. From there, the outcome was elementary, as Silva struck his wounded opponent with four violent right hooks to the head, relieving him of his consciousness and securing Silva his first victory on Japanese soil since July 2006.
“He’s a tough guy; Brian Stann is a great opponent. I’m so happy to fight a guy like him and to just make a fight like that,” Silva said of the hard-fought contest. “I’m there to fight. I’m not there to run. I love to fight with guys like that. Thanks so much to Brian Stann for fighting me.”
Though Silva ruled the Pride Fighting Championships’ 205-pound division for more than five years, the 36-year-old has more recently competed at 185 pounds with the exception of tonight’s light heavyweight showdown with Stann. While Silva looked sharp in his return to his former weight class, it is currently unclear whether the 16-year pro will remain a UFC light heavyweight.
“This was a special fight,” said Silva. “The guys at light heavyweight are so big. I don’t know what is going to happen next.”