At 36 years of age, the question of retirement comes at Wanderlei Silva almost daily.
He knows the day that he will have to hang up his gloves for the final time is drawing ever nearer, but fights like the one he had with Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8 continue to feed the fire that burns inside.
The two went toe-to-toe and fist-for-fist in a brutal 9:08 war, Silva eventually knocking Stann out.
“Brian Stann is a tough opponent. He has a strong punch,” said Silva at the post-fight press conference. “I hit him and he hit me, and I felt out a little bit in that moment, but this is the kind of fight I like to do. He’s a strong guy, a warrior; he came to fight, no going away, no run around. He’s there to do the job.”
“Doing the job” fulfills Silva. He may have earned his moniker of the “Axe Murder” with the way he fights, but the man could hardly be anything further from that outside of the cage.
Silva is an athlete that fights very much for his fans. It’s what sustains his youthful energy for the fight game. It’s what keeps him going, and what may keep him going beyond the time when he really should – like the NFL quarterback chasing one more Super Bowl – call it a day.
Silva has been in many wars over the years, his health taking a beating at times.
The day is coming, but the day is not today.
“I fight one fight at a time right now,” Silva stated. “I feel healthy, but I know sooner or later I’m gonna need to stop the job, but I’m happy for getting this feeling, this energy from my fans, make the show for my fans, make my fans happy.”
Saturday’s fight with Stann was the realization of one of Silva’s dreams, a dream that takes him one step closer to retirement.
He has been fighting professionally since 1996, nearly 17 years, pushing up on two decades. Silva began his career in Brazil and reached its apex fighting for Pride FC in Japan.
Having fought the past several years in the UFC, and mostly in the United States, Silva wanted to fight at least one more time each in Brazil and Japan before his day is done.
He fought Rich Franklin at UFC 147 in Brazil and Brian Stann at UFC on Fuel TV 8, fulfilling his wish.
“I’m so glad the UFC gave me the opportunity for me to fight one last time in Brazil and fighting here,” he said, but left the door open for more. “If UFC gives me the opportunity to come back here, I’m happy to fight in Japan again.
“I have the best moments of my life here and today is one more.”
How many more todays does Silva have? Only Silva will be able to answer that question, and even he can’t answer it just yet.