We sure hope not. We would like to put it down to partying hard the previous night or doing an interview without a morning cuppa Joe. The face looks kinda puffy …
Pound for pound Wanderlei is one of the most fearless stand-up fighters in the UFC. His ass belongs in the UFC hall of fame. But that distinction, built on unrelenting aggression and a naked toe-to-toe style, comes at a cost with possible ramifications that have yet to be tabulated. Here are Wanderlei’s numbers. At about 33 years, he already has 32-9 -1 record with 3 fights in which he was knocked out outright and two fights in which he received 2 TKOS. While interesting, these numbers really hide some pernicious aspects of Wanderlei’s style. Unlike Machida, Wanderlei is a take-no-prisoner pugilist from The Fight Club‘s school of hard knocks. So what those numbers hide are the fights he had like UFC 79 in which he took unbelievable punishment from Chuck Liddell because he would not back down. (Most of the Youtube videos of that fight have been taken down by Zuffa. If you can find one somewhere, all the more power to you.) The head blows Wanderlei received in that fight would have felled a less ballsy fighter. At the end of the day he received more pummeling than he really should have, but that is Wanderlei for you. Nobody, but perhaps his doctors, knows what that pummeling did to him. This was on top of whatever damage he may have sustained cumulatively from some of his 29 prior fights. We never looked at Wanderlei the same after UFC 97.
That fight was instructive of what perhaps goes on inside the head of a no-blows-barred pugilist, especially in light of what Rashad Evans revealed in a recent videotaped interview following his loss to Lyoto Machida. He said that while he was being pummeled by Machida (in the second round just before his knockout) he thought Machida was hitting like a ….. (girl). Interpolation ours. But that was just his adrenaline talking because he got knocked out in the split second before he could complete the diss. In reality his perceptions had nothing to do with what was going on with his body and its neurological hardware (cumulative concussion.) That, exactly, is the danger of taking too many punches to the head in the heat of battle. A fighter’s senses, addled by blasts of adrenaline, totally fail him when it comes to assessing the damage he is sustaining.
Say what you want about Machida’s aversion to being hit, he does have a tenable method to his madness. Being hit, especially in the head is no child’s play. Football players run the same gauntlet and a few of them do pay the piper later on in their lives. An excerpt about women wrestlers, who don’t receive nearly as many blows to their bodies, has some interesting medical findings.
It may be too early to say anything about Wanderlei, but we certainly hope for the best. Wanderlei is set to fight Rich Franklin in a UCF 99 non-title event in Berlin tomorrow. ( Pay Per View Showtimes (USA) : 10pm EST and 7pm PST.)
Meanwhile, the anatomy of sudden impact in slow-mo:
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