Nickname The Axe Murderer
Height 1.8 m (5 ft 11 in)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg)
Born July 3, 1976
Fighting out of Las Vegas, United States|
Town of birth Curitiba, Brazil
Fighting style Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout 21
By submission 4
No contests 1
Wanderlei Cesar Silva, (born July 3, 1976 in Curitiba, Brazil) is a Brazilian mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter, who has competed in Japan's PRIDE Fighting Championships and the American based Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). He trained under Rudimar Fedrigo at the Chute Boxe Academy in Curitiba, Brazil. He specializes in Muay Thai and has received a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He holds notable wins over Kazushi Sakuraba, Ricardo Arona, Dan Henderson, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Yuki Kondo. He is the former PRIDE middleweight (205 lb) champion and the PRIDE 2003 Middleweight Grand Prix champion, among others.
Silva earned the nickname "The Axe Murderer" for his extremely aggressive style; the majority of his fights have either ended in a knockout or referee stoppage due to his strikes. In the ring, he is known for engaging opponents with punches and utilizing knees in the Muay Thai clinch. He is also known for kicking and stomping downed opponents as well as his looping punches.
Silva's nickname in Brazil is "Cachorro Louco", which translates to "Mad Dog", again due to his aggressive fighting style, but also because of the vicious way he stares down opponents just before the beginning of his fights.
Silva's aggressive style is rooted in street brawling, refined with elements of Muay Thai and kickboxing. As a late teen he joined the military and was quickly recognized for his fighting talents and rose up in the ranks. Silva enlisted after already winning fight tournaments in his age group in Brazil.
Silva's first professional MMA match was on November 1, 1996, in the Brazilian Vale Tudo Fighting organization (BVF), where he knocked out Dilson Filho with punches at BVF 6. He fought in one other match in BVF, BVF 10 on July 1, 1997, against Marcelao Marcelao, who submitted due to a shoulder injury.
Silva fought six matches in four different International Vale Tudo Championship events, IVC 2, IVC 6, IVC 9 and IVC 10, from 1997 to 1999. He won five of these matches and lost to Artur Mariano by TKO due to a cut in IVC 2: A Question of Pride on September 15, 1997. The cut was above his right eyelid and opened back up several times, partially because Silva continued to use the cut side of his head to inflict many head butts on Mariano over the course of the match. The doctor observed the cut several times before the fight was ended.
Silva participated in one Meca World Vale Tudo event, Meca 2 on August 12, 2000, where he knocked out Todd Medina with knees.
Silva entered the Ultimate Fighting Championship on October 16, 1998, at UFC Brazil: Ultimate Brazil, in a match against Vitor Belfort. The match has arguably been Silva's worst defeat in his career, lasting only 44 seconds and ending with Silva being knocked out by Belfort's punches. Silva won his next UFC match on May 7, 1999, at UFC 20 where he knocked out Tony Petarra with knees. On April 14, 2000, Silva was given a chance to fight for the UFC middleweight (205 lb) championship, but lost via decision to Tito Ortiz at UFC 25: Ultimate Japan 3.
Silva debuted in PRIDE at the PRIDE 7 event on September 12, 1999, winning against Carl Malenko by decision. From 1999 to 2004, Silva won eighteen-straight fights in PRIDE, excluding a draw against Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović (under slightly modified rules) and a no contest against Gilbert Yvel (Yvel was accidentally kicked in the groin), giving him a twenty-fight unbeaten streak. Silva's reputation as a formidable MMA fighter grew as he developed a successful record in PRIDE.
Silva fought Japanese superstar Kazushi Sakuraba for the first time at PRIDE 13: Collision Course on March 25, 2001. Silva won via TKO (strikes) at 1:38 into the first round. At PRIDE 17: Championship Chaos on November 3, 2001, Silva won the PRIDE middleweight (205 lb) championship when he defeated Sakuraba for the second time. Sakuraba suffered a broken clavicle and withdrew after the first round, giving Silva a TKO win via doctor's stoppage. The two fought for a third time on August 10, 2003 at PRIDE Total Elimination 2003, part of PRIDE's middleweight tournament. Silva knocked out Sakuraba with a two punch combination at 5:01 into the first round.
Silva faced Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at PRIDE Final Conflict 2003 on November 9, 2003. Silva won by TKO due to referee's stoppage after delivering seventeen consecutive knees to Jackson. Silva became PRIDE's 2003 tournament champion with the win. When the two fought again on October 31, 2004 at PRIDE 28: High Octane, Silva knocked out Jackson with knees in a clinch.
Silva's other notable wins in PRIDE include Guy Mezger (2001, KO), Dan Henderson (2001, decision), Hidehiko Yoshida (2003 and 2005, via decisions), and Yuki Kondo (2004, KO) among others. In Japan, Silva additionally gained his reputation as a fighter who has never been defeated by any Japanese opponent, resulting in a trend of various Japanese fighters being arranged by PRIDE to face him.
Silva's undefeated streak in PRIDE was broken by Mark Hunt, a K-1 champion on December 31, 2004 at the PRIDE Shockwave 2004 event. Hunt won the non-title match by split decision. The decision was controversial because some who felt that Hunt's weight of 280 lb (125 kg), over 80 lb more than Silva, as well as Silva's performance in rounds two and three, had not been sufficiently considered by the judges in their decision; Randy Couture and Bas Rutten, both being commentators at the event, expressed disagreement with the judges decision.
Silva's former status as PRIDE's middleweight champion first came under debate and criticism with his loss to Ricardo Arona (who subsequently lost the tournament to Silva's team-mate, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua) on August 28, 2005 at PRIDE Final Conflict 2005. The loss, by unanimous decision in the tournament's semi-finals, was Silva's first defeat in a middleweight match in PRIDE; however, since it was not a title fight and held under special rules due to the grand prix format (2 rounds instead of 3), Silva was still recognized as the middleweight champion. A rematch between Arona and Silva took place at the PRIDE Shockwave 2005 event on December 31, 2005, with Silva winning by split decision.
On May 18, 2006, PRIDE's parent company, Dream Stage Entertainment (DSE), announced that Silva would replace PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko in the Open-Weight Grand Prix. Emelianenko's doctors stated that his hand, which had recently undergone surgery, would not be in good enough shape to fight because the metal implant would still be present. Because Silva was also a champion, he received a first round bye and fought in the second round at PRIDE Critical Countdown Absolute, which took place on July 1st, 2006. Silva moved to the semi-finals of the OpenWeight Grand Prix after defeating Kazuyuki Fujita by TKO (strikes) at 9:21 of round one.
On July 8, 2006 at UFC 61: Bitter Rivals, UFC president Dana White announced Silva would face Chuck Liddell in a UFC event held in November, granted Liddell beat Renato "Babalu" Sobral at UFC 62. Since then, talks dwindled and the fight as advertised did not happen.
On September 10, 2006 at PRIDE Final Conflict Absolute, Wanderlei Silva was knocked out by Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipović in the Open-Weight Grand Prix semi-finals. After a brief stoppage to tend to a swollen eye on Silva, "Cro Cop" struck Silva in the head with a left kick, knocking him out. On October 21, 2006 at PRIDE 32: The Real Deal, Wanderlei issued his challenge to Chuck Liddell to a fight inside a PRIDE ring in February, when the promotion returned to Las Vegas, Nevada, however Dana White stated that the fight would not be happening, citing Silva's recent loss to Mirko Filipović.
Silva put his PRIDE middleweight title on the line against Dan Henderson, PRIDE's welterweight (183 lb) champion at PRIDE 33: The Second Coming, held on February 24, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. In a night of upsets, Henderson knocked out Silva in the third round with a left hook to the head to become the new middleweight champion. Silva was denied the ability to participate in PRIDE 34 due to medical suspension by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC).
At the post-UFC 71 press conference Dana White was asked about Liddell's future in the UFC to which he answered, "That's what we will probably do, Chuck versus Wanderlei" . According to the Boston Herald on June 8, 2007, Liddell confirmed Silva as his next opponent.
On July 11, 2007 Dana White confirmed in an interview with Yahoo! Sports that the bout between Wanderlei Silva and Chuck Liddell has been canceled indefinitely. Silva and Liddell were supposed to be the main bout for UFC 76 in Anaheim, California.
Silva responded with a video posted on his website to the allegations that he turned down a fight with Chuck Liddell for UFC 76 in September.
In the video Silva stated, "I never said that I wouldn't fight Chuck. I've wanted this fight for a long time"
The former PRIDE champion continued, "I received a contract with two options, I could fight in September or November. I have chose to make this fight in November. I was the first to want this fight, but they kept avoiding this fight. Now there's a lot of people saying that I have ducked Chuck. This is not true"
According to Silva, the timing for the fight to take place in September did not work for him. He explained, "I am in a moment of transition in my life. I'm going to move to the U.S. in a few weeks. I'm going to live in the U.S. and there's a lot of things happening, and I'm not focused on training the way I want to be. I always fought at the time the promoters wanted. Sometimes I did things I should not have done, but this time I won't do that anymore."
Denying he ever turned down a fight with Chuck Liddell, Silva said, "I want to fight Chuck in November and make a huge show, and make it the biggest show ever...I have no doubts it's the most important fight of my life. I know Chuck is a great name in the U.S., we'll do a great fight. I think I must be in my best shape, so I want this time to train better to be in my bests shape ever."
Silva asserted, "This fight is on, if he Chuck doesn't hide behind this mess." The UFC has only one event scheduled for November, and that would be in New Jersey. Many industry insiders have affirmed that this fight would be an event that would only take place in Las Vegas. Some have even gone so far as to speculate that a possible Liddell vs. Silva match on the Las Vegas card in December of 2007 would strategically be a good spot for this fight, but Dana White and the UFC management continue to deny that this fight will ever take place.
On August 17, 2007, the UFC announced that they had signed Wanderlei Silva to compete in the organization. The UFC also announced that "The Axe Murderer" would be returning to the Octagon in December at UFC 79. After months of speculation about Silva's opponent, UFC President Dana White announced during Spike TV's Scream Awards that Silva will be fighting Chuck Liddell at UFC 79.
Wanderlei is married and has a 9 year old daughter and a 3 year old son.