COMMENTARY | BY PAUL PUTIGNANO FOR HOMETOWNSTATION.COM
For those who aren’t familiar with mixed martial arts or its top competitors, the name Wanderlei Silva might not resonate.
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However, Silva, a six-time champion in Pride Fighting Championships who once rode a six-year winning streak in the promotion, was famous for his tenacity and aggressive style and beloved by his fans in Japan.
On Saturday, the Brazilian legend returned to Japan, where he built his career, for his main-event bout with Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8 in Saitama, Japan. It was
the first time he has fought in the country since 2006, and he did not disappoint.
Even in the twilight of his career, Silva put on a vintage performance and scored a second-round knockout of Stann in a nine-minute slugfest that may have prolonged the legend’s career.
“I feel really happy,” said Silva, 36, after the fight. “I don’t know what happens in Japan, but it makes me feel young. I’m happy to fight in Japan again. I have the best
moments in my life here, and today is one more. I feel the energy here, the energy of the Brazilian fans, the Japanese fans. I feel really happy to fight over here.”
The two men went toe-to-toe, trading punches and knockdowns in a thrilling matchup of two talented fighters.
With a final flurry, Silva (35-12-1) put the finishing touches on Stann (12-6) with less than a minute left in the second round. Cheers erupted for the local hero as he
climbed the cage wall and threw his hands up in celebration.
It was a beautiful moment for a man who helped build the sport and whose warm spirit stands in stark contrast to the dangerous fighter inside the cage.
The conquering hero had returned, and with Stann, put on one of the all-time great fights.
But they weren’t the only men to display great performances.
Mark Hunt, a 5-foot-10-inch heavyweight, knocked out 7-foot-tall Stefan Struve in the co-main event and may be one of the card’s top beneficiaries.
Hunt’s win should put him in position for an upper-tier matchup his next time in the octagon.
Read more about the night’s “stock watch” and who’s rising and falling following their respective performances [here].
The event sets the stage for one of the most highly anticipated Pay-Per View events of the year when welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre meets Nick Diaz in a
grudge match at UFC 158 on March 16 in Montreal. The fight is the culmination of months of trash talking and disrespect.
UFC on Fuel TV 8 full results:
Wanderlei Silva def. Brian Stann via KO (punches) – Round 2, 4:08
Mark Hunt def. Stefan Struve via TKO (punches) – Round 3, 1:44
Diego Sanchez def. Takanori Gomi via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Yushin Okami def. Hector Lombard via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
Rani Yahya def. Mizuto Hirota via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Dong Hyun Kim def. Siyar Bahadurzada via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-
Brad Tavares def. Riki Fukuda via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 30-27
Takeya Mizugaki def. Bryan Caraway via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Kazuki Tokudome def. Cristiano Marcello via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Alex Caceres def. Kyung Ho Kang via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Hyun Gyu Lim def. Marcelo Guimaraes via KO (knee) – Round 2, 4:00
Paul Putignano is a Santa Clarita resident and an MMA contributor for Yahoo Sports.
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