Win or lose on Saturday, Wanderlei Silva should walk away from fighting with his head held high.
His legendary status in the sport of MMA was sealed long ago. With nothing left to prove, the Axe Murderer would be best-served calling it quits while he still has the facilities to do so.
Once upon a time, Silva was the most fearsome man in the sport.
His reputation as a destroyer of men was consecrated in his days as PRIDE FC's most dominant champion. His accomplishments in the once-great promotion are many: He was the first man to win both a championship and a Grand Prix title, holds the most wins (22) in the organization and compiled the longest winning streak (20).
He held on to the company's 205-pound division title from 2001 until 2007 and compiled 15 knockouts in the process. His legacy as one of PRIDE's biggest stars can't be disputed.
However, the longer he holds on to his fading UFC career, the more those accomplishments from his prime fade into the rear view.
Since re-joining the UFC in 2007, Silva hasn't been the same uber-aggressive mauler who endeared himself to the fans of Japan. His 3-5 record in his eight fights is a far cry from the domination he once enjoyed as a PRIDE legend.
Considering Silva's brawling style, it's amazing that he's continued to fight into his mid-30s. He's officially fought 48 professional bouts, and he's never been one to back down from exchanges; many of those bouts have been wars.
Going into Saturday's main event, Silva will once again look to put on a show against Brian Stann. In Stann he takes on a guy with more than enough power to put the current version of Silva down. The Axe Murderer will need to truly channel his former PRIDE self if he wants to pull off the upset.
Perhaps the best result for Silva would be for him to lose. With the spotlight on former athletes in sports like football and boxing who suffer long-lasting effects of head trauma, Silva is and has been walking a dangerous line.
His place in MMA history is secure; he has nothing left to prove. Fans will miss his highlight-friendly, entertaining style, but it's time for him to accept his legendary status and walk away from the sport with some dignity.
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