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Silva still making MMA history
Wanderlei Silva isn’t nostalgic about the early, no-holds-barred days of mixed martial arts.
“We didn’t have rules, style or anything,” the veteran Brazilian fighter told FOXSports.com “Man, you didn’t even have any warning on who you were going to fight. I think that’s why there were so many jokes made about the sport and the fighters.”
There will be much more decorum when Silva enters the Octagon against Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Japan this weekend with lightly padded gloves — about the only thing that hasn’t changed dramatically since Silva’s days as a vale tudo (Portuguese for “anything goes”) fighter.
Silva, 36, credits UFC president Dana White, who convinced the casino magnate Fertitta brothers to team up and buy the UFC in 2001, for making the sport not only more professional, but also lucrative.
“There wasn’t much benefit for the fighters (financially),” Silva said. “You didn’t make money outside the Octagon. Now, we can make appearances, get sponsors. It’s a different era and I’m glad Dana came to us.”
Silva’s bout against Stann continues another recent effort under White: international expansion. This is the second Fuel TV event over the last three weeks that has taken place outside the US. (UFC on Fuel 7 was in London.) UFC on Fuel 8 — which begins Saturday at 10 pm ET — is the second UFC event in Japan over the last 12 months.
Viewers are expected to see a stand-up bout with plenty of strikes, the forte of both Silva and Stann. If it goes to the ground, Silva said he expects to have the edge.
“I know his weakness is his ground game,” Silva said. “I’ve been training with some good Jiu-Jitsu guys. Maybe I can take him down.”
Silva’s pro career has spanned more than 16 years and 48 fights. (34-12 with one draw and one no-decision.) He said he didn’t know exactly how many fights he had left in him.
“I think 20 or more,” Silva joked. “I don’t know. Maybe I have three years left in me. I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be good fighting and training against the young guys. It feels good to fight right now. But the future is the furthest thing from my mind with this fight coming up.
Silva may not know how many fights he wants to enter. He does, however, know what kind of fights he’s retired from.
“Things are much better now,” Silva said of his early days in the sport. “Now we have rules and we get three to five months to prepare for an opponent. You didn’t know who you were going to fight until you showed up. We stay in good hotels. All is good. Really good. We can make a living and, as athletes, we’re being treated like athletes from other sports.”