Wanderlei Silva lost to Rich Franklin in a unanimous decision after three grueling rounds of almost non-stop punching and kicking (after the initial feeling out period.) Wanderlei who was playing to the crowd left fans sated with action that is rarely seen MMA. All good for the peanut gallery but what about Wanderlei? At 33 years and a career that seems to be peaking after about 13 years of unstinting punch-fests, someone needs to tap him on the shoulder for a serious man to man talk. At best, he needs to reasses his career. And at worst he needs to be thinking of a dignified exit a year or two from now. Talking of putting on a good show, as he did in the post fight interview, is kind of charming but it may be a disturbing sign of a fighter who has become averse to contemplating life after the octagon.
Do we know this for a fact? No, we don’t, but since we haven’t heard any talk to that effect, it is a legitimate subject for internet chatter. If Wanderlei Silva is in indeed this situation, then he is not alone among sports legends of his generation, but hyper-physical sports tend to be very unforgiving when it comes to contestants who miss their designated exits. Boxing and MMA perhaps epitomize this fact more than most. Any fighter who thinks he can pull the MMA equivalent of a B.B. King will either be maimed or taken out of the octagon on a coroner’s gurney.
Unless Wanderlei is hurting for money, which is never a good thing for anyone, he has nothing to worry about. Hard-core MMA fans adore what he stands for and what he has brought to the sport. In terms of stature, he stands right up there with the O.G.s who made the sport what it is. His ass belongs in the Hall of Fame. Besides, he is probably in very good company when it comes to the dilemma of dignified exits. Chuck Liddell is being compelled to mull over retirement after several losses in which he was knocked out cold. Attending a UFC Hall of Fame induction on one’s own two feet is way better than doing it in a wheelchair.
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